The Youth Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program is an educational tool to help young pork producers, 4H and FFA members learn Good Production Practices (GPP) when raising pigs. The PQA Plus program highlights areas of animal care and well-being and focuses on teaching youth how to raise a safe, healthy and wholesome product for the consumer. As a Michigan State University Extension educator, I have offered numerous programs to youth involved in livestock exhibition. The Youth PQA Plus program is a premier educational opportunity for youth involved in the pork industry, providing them with resources and information that will help understand how to provide proper care for their animal.
Having pigs with a high health status not only benefits the animal but also the producer. A pig that is free of parasites and disease issues will ultimately be more productive and grow better. In order to have a high health status on your farm you need to be able to work with a veterinarian and have a biosecurity plan in place.
These are two of the good production practices that the Youth PQA Plus program covers.
When raising animals, it is important to have a veterinarian client patient relationship. You should have a veterinarian with swine experience who you can contact with questions or for guidance with your animals.
Your veterinarian can diagnose a disease or health issue, advice you on which medical products you should use to treat your animals and give you access to prescription medications if needed. A relationship with a practicing veterinarian is essential if you experience an animal health problem on your farm.
Having a biosecurity plan for your farm will also help you maintain healthy animals. Implementing methods to keep disease from entering your facility and infecting your pigs is the goal of a biosecurity plan.
Simple things like changing your clothes and boots after visiting other animals and washing your hands before and after you work with your pigs are simple ways that you can decrease the health risk for your herd. It is also important for you to separate the pigs currently on your farm from new or incoming pigs, so that you can determine if one of the animals is carrying disease prior to mixing the animals.
The Youth PQA Plus program covers 10 Good Production Practices and is an education program for youth ages 8 to 19. This year, Michigan youth have an opportunity to access the program via an online tutorial thru the National Pork Board.
If you are interested in the online program option please contact the Pork Checkoff Center at 1-800-456-7675, state that you are a youth from Michigan and request access to the online Youth PQA Plus program. Representatives from the Pork Checkoff Center will enter you into the program’s database and give you access to the online tutorial. This educational program is beneficial for all youth raising pigs and will help them learn about the pork industry, while teaching them the proper good production practices to use when raising their own animals.