I’ve raised a lot of pigs and learned a lot through my mistakes. My experience has shown me that the natural method is best for a number of reasons.
There is usually no need for preventative antibiotics such as in medicated feed. Don’t treat your pigs if they aren’t sick. Most medicated feed and milk replacer has oxytetracycline added. This is a good antibacterial medicine, but when given in constant doses over time it can actually open the pig up to some very serious infections. Use over time it can create resistant bacteria that cannot be controlled by the antibiotic. Additionally, most of the drug is excreted in manure and goes into your pasture.
We lost two cross litters last spring due to severe meningitis; infection of the brain by bacteria. The piglets all died over a period of a few weeks and our vet tried several different antibiotics to try and control the infection. It took an autopsy to verify what had happened.
When we would get bottle babies, we used to use non-medicated goat milk replacer. But it was so expensive that we decided to go with an all livestock milk replacer that was much cheaper. The two litters became bottle babies because their sows, first time moms, did not produce milk. We fed the 26 piglets with the cheaper milk replacer. The first few weeks they did great but then, one by one, they became listless, appeared dizzy, started paddling and then died.
Only after losing all of them did we realize that the milk replacer was medicated with oxytetracycline. What we had done was to kill off all of the good bacteria in their bodies and they became infected by an oxytetracycline resistant bacteria which eventually killed them.
Large hog farms routinely provide medicated feed to their hogs. The result is a large increase in the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria and a call by the FDA for producers to stop using medicated feed. This is a serious problem with clear indications not only for livestock but also for human health.
Don’t make the same mistake. If your pigs get sick have a vet diagnose and treat them. Don’t give them medicine when they are healthy.
Most illnesses can be prevented through good practices such as keeping their water fresh, cleaning their area daily, giving them fresh, natural (non-medicated) food and rotating them between paddocks or pasture.
Give them as clean and natural an environment as you are able to. Learn as much about pigs as you can. Read the old texts (from the 1800s) and gain from the experience of those who had never heard of raising pigs in a crowded environment or of using antibiotics. Your pigs will reward you.
– by Brian Wright
Copyright © 2010 Homegrown Acres. Used with permission.
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