|Our small farm piglets|
|The CAFO piglets|
*According to the US Department of Agriculture, PEDV has surfaced in 26 states. Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics and a Pork Checkoff consultant, estimates the loss of more than 5 million piglets in the past several months, with 1.3 million in January (2014) alone.
Karen Richter, a Minnesota Producer and president of The National Pork Board states "This has become one of the most serious and devastating disease our pig farmers have faced in decades." She goes to say, " While it has no impact on food safety, it is clear implications for the pork industry in terms of supplying pork to consumers."
And finally..The Big Solution of Big Pork Producers, ...Biosecurity
Where do I begin on this one?
Well, I suppose with a disclaimer. We here on South Pork Ranch do not do any kind of formal research, we are not (Thank God) a mega farm, we do not gather data for anyone but ourselves and our opinion are ours alone; Purely anecdotal from over 50 years of combined small family farming.
And frankly this biosecurity crap is what has killed all those piglets in the first place, which is why we have never practiced it here and never plan to.
I will take it down to the very basics not because you my readers are limited but because our government is riddled with learning disabilities. Bacteria and viruses can be good or bad. Bacteria and viruses can serve very important functions on the farm and in general. It is impossible to shield ourselves, our children, our farm from bacteria and viruses.
The orange I brought home from the supermarket was handled, I am guessing my maybe 50 people (with dirty hands, with colds, with who knows what) before I picked it up and bought it. It rolled around in its little bag touching other foods and then I put it in the bowl on my kitchen table where it could touch even MORE fruit) Sure I could wash it but water doesn't kill germs. Am I going to rinse it in bleach water? ...no. Will I eat part of the peel or zest it up in a recipe? You bet your sweet bippy I will.
The focus, for any of us to come out of this world alive (until of course, we die, and we all will indeed die) is not to attempt to remove all bacteria and virus's from our world but to IMPROVE OUR IMMUNE SYSTEMS AND THOSE OF OUR LIVESTOCK. Now keep in mind I understand that institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes are bound to provide care under certain anti-bacterial standards as unfortunately harmful bacteria can thrive in those places if left unchecked. I am referring to the need to keep things simple on farms and in homes that are already healthy.
Back to PEDV.
Those CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) piglets were sitting ducks. With decades of antibiotic overuse, confined animals have had their immune systems completely wiped off their genetic maps. Even if PEDV is mildly controlled in the future (No sign of that yet), it's devastation in CAFO hog houses is just the beginning of what this country is destined to see, a complete annihilation of its conventional meat supply. Only with drastic production method changes will they be able to turn this crashing train around, the train that started careening off its track when after WW2 we started pulling our livestock off the good green earth it needs to survive.
And because this type of farming is based on finance alone, I have no hope, that these changes will occur. I do however have great hope for the ever increasing population who is insisting on humanely grown, healthy meat raised by small farmers whom although not opposed to a healthy bottom line, choose to farm in an ethical manner first.
I believe it is past time for all livestock farmers to adopt the small portion of same Hippocratic Oath (sadly not mandatory) as physicians: First, Do No Harm.
Please understand. I do not view farm animals on the same level as human life. I do believe God gave them to use to use to our benefit. But I am appalled at the horrific treatment the majority of our US livestock is experiencing. There are better ways but sadly they won't make us filthy rich which has become the impetus behind Factory Farming today. I am not saying that those farmers with just a few Hog Houses are filthy rich but they are certainly contributing to the welfare of those Bigger Ag Companies who are.
And at what price? The future devastation of our meat supply in this country, and the deteriorating health of our population.
So here at South Pork Ranch we continue to focus NOT on keeping germs off our farm, like we are being told to do by those who keep losing millions of their own animals, but instead on maintaining the health of our livestock. What follows is our list of...
1. Allow visitors to your farm.
2. Allow delivery trucks, postal vehicles, customers SUV's to roll right on up the lane.
3. Allow people to (here is the scary part) actually Touch your animals. With supervision of course. It is still a farm and animals can be dangerous.
4. Avoid any antibiotic use (unless the animals life is threatened) instead utilizing, organic, holistic, homeopathic treatments first.
5. Wear your chores boots until they wear out but be sure to rinse them off well in the mud muddles before bringing them inside the farmhouse.
6. Wash your coveralls when the percentage of clean cloth seen is less than the manure stained portions.
7. Raise your animals outside, in spacious areas, on the good green earth, rather than in inhumane overcrowded concrete and steel buildings where they reside on hard surfaces just above huge pools of their own toxic waste their entire but greatly shortened lives.
Yes, I am being a bit glib in a couple of our actions above, but not much. We do keep a very clean milk parlor, milk house according to Grade A Standards. We teach our customers to wash their hands before accessing our milk tank
Hand washing really is one of the best ways to deter disease spread.
Our farm is not perfect. We make mistakes but each time we suffer an animal loss we ask ourselves. "What could we have done different? What are others like us doing? How can we improve?" So when I see Big Ag repeat their same mistakes like overuse of antibiotics , overcrowding, and increased biosecurity when it has not proven successful in the past, I have to wonder (again) about their basic sanity levels.
We do isolate new animals when they are brought onto the farm. This only happens two-three times a year. And we do quasi-isolate sick animals but not alone. We will isolate them with a litter mate or another calf because animals like humans need companionship and they heal best when not in absolute isolation.
What I ask of you my fellow farmer is this. Take a drive. Observe the number of CAFO setups in your area and ask. "If this farmer is so proud of the way he is raising his animals why is there no Farm Sign or contact info outside those buildings? Why do they not invite consumers to tour? Why are those animals never taken to petting zoos or schools ?
The reasons why not...go way beyond Biosecurity.
* Source: from www.pork.org)