Friday, March 28, 2014

Miss Peggy Sue and You

This title must have made you wonder if I have lost it!  Well, fortunately I haven't.

I want to talk about one of my buddies, and she's pink!  Just like most people that live/work on farms, I too have one little critter that I take a special interest in.  Okay, she's not very small.  She's about a two year old sow that I, for some reason or other, just cant resist!

Now, why did this sow get a name and many of them don't?  Well, for the most part I was bored and "Peggy" rhymes with "piggy" (real creative, I know!).  This is actually "Peggy II" since Peggy I went to see Louie at the hog market back in the fall.

When I go to visit the farm, or work if you want to call it that, one of my first stops (after dipping my boots in a foot bath for biosecurity reasons) is the sow building.  One of my responsibilities since I started helping on the farm was to help care for the breeding hogs.  There are around 150 of them on the farm, and I always have one that's a favorite.  This is usually because she is the one that doesn't bark at me when I bring the feed cart down the aisle, but rather just looks up at me and patiently waits while I bring breakfast.

What's so special about sows that is different with market hogs?  At the farm, the breeding livestock come from a high-quality breeding stock breeder (tongue twister much?).  Sows will usually stay on the farm two to three years, and farrow (have piglets) twice a year.  They come to the farm about six months old, and then will usually breed in the next couple months.  Sows are pregnant for 114 days (three months, three weeks, three days is how its taught) and then have piglets.  They move into a "farrowing house" and are then put in individual pens like the one you see above with plenty of space to move around, warm straw to sleep on, feed every morning, fresh straw every morning, and a section where the piglets can lay under a heat lamp and stay warm when they are not nursing.  Piglets are very heat sensitive when they are born, so they are kept in buildings where climate is closely monitored.  After six weeks in the farrowing house, the sows go to a different building where they have outside access, and are put on a feed ration to help them put weight back on after six weeks of nursing.  Piglets go to the nursery at this time, and are put in group pens with other sows' piglets.  All pigs are well monitored for their health and well-being.

Peggy and the other pigs are raised in a way to provide a safe, nutritious, and healthy source of pork to consumers across the nation!  Yes, contrary to what some will say, farmers really care about what you eat, since it has their name on it. 

(sorry, this showed up sideways)

As we wrap up National Agriculture Week, I felt that I could share with you about one of my pink friends, since agriculture is, you could say, a huge part of her life! 

As you go on, think of Miss Peggy next time you are eating pork products.  She helped those get to your table!

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