Ohio winters offer challenges to pork producers

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Just as the change of the season brings about slippery roads and windshields that need scraped before you venture out, the winter months can be the cause of many concerns on Ohio’ hog farms as well. From moisture, to rodents, to bio-security, there is plenty to keep in mind as pig farmers prep barns for livestock.

“Because of the wet and damp conditions that Mother Nature gives us this time of year, moisture is more difficult to control,” said Dr. Terri Specht, a veterinarian at Heimerl Farms in Johnstown. “We recommend using a couple days to get the barns warmed up before new pigs come in. Most barns are temperature regulated to keep the pigs comfortable all year round, but it takes a while to get a barn to that 65 degree level in the winter.”

As harvest progresses, albeit slowly across the state, those finished corn and soybean fields force some unwelcome guests to look for shelter in those warmed barns. Specht says be sure to have bait stationed around the farm and that the barn is sealed up to prevent any rodents or birds from finding their way in.

The late harvest has had a domino effect of pork producers not being able to get their pits pumped and when they finally can, bio-security is a must.

“When conditions are right for emptying pits, farmers need to be sure to maintain good traffic and steering clear of other farmers’ foot paths,” Specht said. “Plus, always know who is coming in and out of the barns and keeping that traffic to a minimum.”

Specht says she is keeping a close eye of the current events with hog production in China, where an outbreak of African Swine Fever is occurring. She says there are no cases in the U.S. and it needs to stay that way.

“There is always a concern for foreign animal disease and we are always on the lookout,” Specht said. “The positive thing for us is that the U.S. swine industry has some very good, well prepared organizations that are really looking into the African Swine Fever issue and are staying ahead of all of the possibilities of how it could get into the U.S. and they are trying to address those before we have any issues.”

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