When it's time to tighten your belt, do so with caution, especially in the herd health area. Don't do it blindly, says Peter Bahnson, University of Illinois extension swine veterinarian. It's important to target cost savings carefully, he says, "reducing costs but without an impact on future revenues." He provides four categories of health-related expenses and recommends handling cost savings differently with each. Here's how Bahnson breaks those costs down:

  • Routinely applied medications. Consider how you use medications such as feed-grade antibiotics. Ask yourself, "Is the reason I started on this program still valid?" If not, Bahnson says, "you may be treating a temporary condition with a permanent cash outlay." There is good potential here for cost savings.
  • Routinely applied preventions. This includes vaccinations and what Bahnson calls strategic medications. He suggests researching whether the disease conditions have changed since you started using these medications. Then further evaluate how you use them.
  • Response treatment expenses. These are expenses incurred through health care designed to respond to a specific problem in a specific group of pigs. While most of these costs cannot be avoided, Bahnson says you can evaluate the treatments to find a best-cost option with appropriate results. Or, look for a preventative measure that may be cheaper and would reduce the need for treatment.
  • Health knowledge. These are costs from professional veterinary consulting, diagnostic services, test results and health program setup expenses. This area, Bahnson says, should be the last place you consider cutting costs, even though it usually comes to mind first. "Health-knowledge expenses can actually save money, if they guide you to spending your money where it has the most impact," he says.