Ryan Vandendriessche cares about protecting the health of his pigs and his community. He knows protecting public health is woven into everything he does on the farm.
Ryan raises crops and pigs with his family in rural Marshall, Minnesota. He knows the food they raise on their farms is directly tied to the health of the individuals in his community. That is an important responsibility.
It is one of the reasons Ryan raises his pigs inside modern, climate-controlled barns. It helps them provide the best care for their pigs. Much like in human healthcare, Ryan uses the latest science to guide his care for the pigs including their health and diet. It’s also why Ryan or another family member checks on their pigs every day to ensure they are healthy and growing.
U.S. pig farmers also hold themselves accountable to using the best practices, techniques, and science to care for their pigs that is validated through the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus) program. PQA Plus is an education and certification program designed to help farmers and their employees continuously improve production practices including animal well-being, environmental stewardship, animal handling, vaccinations, and public health.
For farmers to sell their pigs, they need to be PQA Plus certified and be recertified every three years. This helps ensure farmers are doing the right things in the barns to provide the best care for their pigs.
Ryan also knows many people are not able to see inside pig barns like his. When neighbors drive by his barns, he demonstrates the same commitment he has for the pigs inside by keeping a clean and orderly farm outside.
“You’ve heard a lot of misinformation about how livestock are over-medicated. I do not do that.”
“My wife Bobbie Jo is a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She knows medication should only be used when needed. Pig farmers know the same.”
Some people will be surprised to know that pigs rarely need medical care, and when they do, farms work with their veterinarians to provide the appropriate treatment, at the right time and in the right amounts. This is especially important for pigs like Ryan’s who cannot go to market if he does not follow strict withdrawal guidelines for medications like antibiotics.
Much like in human medicine, pig farms want to protect the efficacy of antibiotics and other treatments that are medically important to humans. This means judicious use of medications, under the direction of a veterinarian, and working to prevent illness or injury of every pig. Antibiotic stewardship is one of the many shared values farmers have with members in their community.
“Providing safe and nutritious food is the end product of caring for the wellbeing of our animals.”