Attempting to protect your piglets from an invisible predator that lurks in unknown corners is truly agony. There’s the intense waiting phase where you feel that every road you drive on could stick the virus to your tires. What if that guy whose pigs are infected walks into the grocery store just before me and down aisle 9 just like me because he too is out of milk at home? Better not get groceries today. It seems to consume your life even before it enters your farm. Then there is working in the farm itself, where every baby pig that looks at you funny just might be the pig that is breaking with the disease. Why does that sow seem to not want to eat as much today? Will the start be just one pig that is sick? How will I ever know that we have it?
And then there’s the definite answer. Those pigs looked a little under the weather yesterday and today they are clinging to life. After being actively involved in two PEDv breaks on two of our sow farms I feel the strong need to make t-shirts boasting, “I survived PED.”
So many strong emotions have erupted to the surface since the day we first saw it on our home farm on December 23. Merry Christmas, right? There was, of course, the feeling of helplessness. These pigs have the classic PEDv scours, the pigs in the next room look beautiful, and there is not one thing that you are going to do to keep them looking that way. You need to ride out this disease, and it is a fast and extremely bumpy ride.
Then there is anger for sure. We are a filtered farm with an extremely tight bio-security protocol. We have air locks for every entry point to the farm so no air comes into the farm from the outside without going through a filter system. Every physical object that comes inside is first subjected to UV light, then down time and then disinfected. Employees are required to wear shoe covers from their car into the building to protect the animals from any disease that might have been in aisle 9 of the grocery store last night. Everyone who enters must take a thorough shower and wear our coveralls and boots that we provide.
So it is easy to see how anger is an overwhelming emotion during this time. How and why the heck did it get in here? Why did it start in those pigs, in that room, all the way down at the end of the hallway farthest from any entryway on the farm?
Then the obvious feeling prevails: grief. When you go to work everyday with the mindset of “I’m going to save pigs today and start their lives out right and I’m going to think of an even better way to do it tomorrow,” it is an extremely hard task to walk in knowing that you have to watch that passion shrivel and die before it starts to look better. You try to keep the morale up in the farm because lets face it, nobody wants to come to work and watch