Thank You to the many people, from at least 5 states, for commenting on the April 2013 issue of “On Call”. Positive reinforcement is appreciated and in one case a reader took exception to my opinion.  Stirring controversy is healthy for our industry as it gets people engaged. All opinions are welcome!!

We need to get young people trained to take our industry forward. Animal care, Stockmanship, will be critical if we are in fact moving to pen gestation (again). When we brought pigs inside back in the 70’s pen gestation was the norm. A controlled environment, out of the mud, was a blessing and production efficiencies followed. Stockmen were the owners, managers, laborers of the day so animal care was top of mind. An animal that was off feed was recognized on day 1 which with our present maternity pens allows obvious black and white analysis.

Recognition is key and with 20 to 70 animals in a group the challenge to properly see every animal every day is heightened.  This ability will transform over time as people work with the animal and “live” with the animal.  Experience in nursery and finishing units, especially large pen finishing, can be an excellent training ground for sow farm management. We have got to recognize and react day 1 to animals off feed.

The black and white will soon be gone. Let’s start making the stockman of tomorrow.

Paul Meers Swine Consulting LLC

The opinions expressed are those of the author.