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Technology, veterinary care helping to improve pig health, production on Illinois swine farm

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Pigs on the Ness farm in Illinois get their dessert before dinner. The Ness’ production system utilizes a liquid byproduct from a nearby ice cream manufacturer to supply fat and energy to their pigs’ diet.

“The pigs really love it, and we’re recycling nutrient value that might otherwise go to waste,” Ron Ness says in a video produced as part of the Vets on Call series.

Another unusual feature at the Ness farm is the electronic particle ionization (EPI) system found in the swine barns.

The EPI system emits a charge that attracts dust particles found in the air from the ground feed and animal dander. These particles then are attracted to a solid surface where their positive charge binds to the negative charge of the surface.

This process reduces the dust particles in the air, making it easier for the pigs — and people — to breathe.

“Today, I see the passion these guys have for their animals; they want what is best for them,” says Noel Garbes, a veterinarian with Bethany Animal Hospital.1

Clean air, clean water and clean, fresh feed — that’s our objective, Ness says, to keep the animals as comfortable and healthy as possible.

The swine-production systems of today have advanced tremendously in terms of pig welfare and comfort.

Garbes, who took over his own family’s swine operation with his brother while he was still in high school, admits they were raising pigs in outside pens that were probably overcrowded. “But we really didn’t know better 30 years ago.”*

“In my practice today as a veterinarian, you know that you’ve really made a difference when you go back to a farm, see that animals have responded to your treatment plan, and you can say there’s nothing wrong with them.”

Watch part 2:




Vets on Call is a video series presented by Zoetis to showcase the important roles veterinarians play in food-animal production.


*Dr. Garbes has since joined Zoetis as a technical services veterinarian.

Posted on May 19, 2017
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