Proper animal care can go a long way in preventing undercover videos being filmed on your operation. “Make sure there is nothing to film by ensuring proper care of pigs every day,” says Lynn Becker, Fairmont, Minn., pork producer.
There are some things in life that take you by surprise, says Becker. When he learned in 2008 about an undercover video that had been recorded on a sow farm he had recently purchased, it definitely qualified.
Becker discussed the experience and gave recommendations to other pork producers at the World Pork Expo held in Des Moines last week. “There are things we could have done better,” he admits, referring to his company’s reaction to the undercover video. Becker shared priorities that could help if the same situation should arise with other pork producers.
Establishing a farm culture that is based on proper animal care principles is a priority, according to Becker. “Make sure that you have a positive barn culture at all times, investigate any incidents that could be perceived as poor animal care and take corrective actions immediately. Proper animal care must be a constant priority.”
Everyone on the farm has the responsibility to provide proper animal care, according to Becker.
Barn workers are a critical component of the culture developed on a farm, according to Sherrie Niekamp, swine welfare director, National Pork Board (NPB). “Making sure that they abide by your farm’s culture is essential.”
Finding appropriate individuals who are good animal caregivers is very important, Niekamp says. ”Make sure that they understand your expectations and provide candidates with a written job description.”
Becker recommends background checks and following up with references on any prospective employee to help ensure you hire the right team members.
“Having an emergency action plan in place is essential if an undercover video is produced on your farm,” Becker says. “Make sure you respond in a timely manner and, if needed, take corrective actions immediately. Be vigilant and be prepared.”
The pork industry offers producer education programs, including Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) and the ‘We Care’ initiative that bring efforts together to help ensure worker compliance.
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