Dr. Laura Dahlquist
Dr. Laura Dahlquist works with farmers every day to help them produce safe pork.
As a swine veterinarian, Dr. Dahlquist knows healthy, safe pork comes from pigs that are well cared for. The partnership between veterinarian and caretaker is critical to ensuring the food produced on Minnesota pig farms is safe and nutritious.
For Dr. Dahlquist, spending time with caretakers can be just as valuable as observing and working with the pigs. In her role of helping protect food safety, Dr. Dahlquist is frequently training and helping farmers improve their practices to better protect pig health. Training sessions and one-on-one conversations help share knowledge and allow new ideas to flow between the farmers and the veterinarians. Hands-on experience combined with the latest developments in animal care practices and products leads to constant improvements.
“As a veterinarian, I focus on biosecurity to keep diseases from ever reaching our farms and threatening our pig’s health and well-being,” Dr. Dahlquist says.
Veterinarians work with farmers to create vaccination programs to protect pigs in case they do become exposed to viruses or bacteria. They also help in diagnosing and coming up with treatment plans to minimize the toll illness or injury can have on the pig. Record keeping of all treatments and antibiotic use is also an important step farmers and veterinaries use to help evaluate what has worked in the past and develop new strategies for the next group of pigs. This also ensures when the pigs go to market, they are free of antibiotic residues and had the proper withdrawal guidelines met.
“I promote using antibiotics only when they are necessary to help pigs that do become sick. This is vital to protecting food safety and antibiotic efficacy.”
Prevention of illness and injury is still the best approach to keeping pigs healthy and in turn, keep our food safe. Veterinarians help farmers with ventilation systems and pig handling strategies to ensure the pig’s environment and the people caring for those pigs are safe.
“I know that using proper management practices will reduce stress on our pigs, keeping them healthy and safe,” Dr. Dahlquist says.
In addition to veterinarians, farms work with swine nutritionists to make sure what they are feeding the pigs meets all the animal’s needs. Healthy pigs make healthy pork.
“For so many reasons, veterinarians like myself are intimately involved in daily decisions with pig farmers to ensure the pork on your table is safe and wholesome for you and your family.”