Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pink with Orange highlights

We normally use livestock crayons for this sort of thing, but we couldn't find any, and we needed to keep track of who we'd vaccinated, and who we had not. 

Most of the pigs we produce we don't treat in any way; they're here for 6-8 months, and honestly, we haven't had a problem in the last 6 years, but the sows (and the replacement gilts) we do vaccinate against the pork diseases that are common in this area.

When you're working with a bunch of basically identical pigs, it's hard to keep track of who you've vaccinated, and who you haven't.  We use a syringe gun; you fill it with enough vaccine for 30 piglets and just grab them and mark them as they go.  With this batch we're giving two different vaccines that cover different diseases.  So we mark each pig as we go through them, and then mark them a second time as we complete the batch. 

No one likes shots; there's a lot of scampering around and squealing as Andrea and I work through the piglets.  A hog panel in a corner of their pen helps with this, bunching them up.  Reach down, grab the rear leg, flip the pig on its side, inject, mark, repeat. 

These pigs are the best of the best -- perfect in all respects.  They'll be the new breeders next year, and if things go right they'll be around for a long time - 4 to 6 years. 

They aren't named yet.  We wait until they get pregnant to name them.  There's always a few that don't get pregnant, and they get slaughtered in due course - nothing wrong with the meat, just not working out for breeding.  I wonder sometimes why they don't, and the vaccinations are one way to eliminate variables, but from a empirical view, it doesn't matter why they don't get pregnant; it just matters that they didn't, and by making this sort of choice, I'm steering my herd towards better overall fertility. 

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