Upwards of 14,000 Manitobans depend on the hog sector for their livelihood. A shared set of values, focused on caring for animals 365 days a year, guides work done across the sector. This keen focus on keeping pigs healthy and cared for allows the province’s hog sector to continue to be a respected, world leader in producing safe, high-quality protein.
Each day, hog farmers live up to the progressive 105 Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs requirements. This includes pigs having ready access to freshwater, nutritious feed, and natural air in climate-controlled barns. Barns provide pigs with shelter, and a healthy and comfortable environment in which to grow. Veterinarians, such as Dr. Earl VanAssen, DVM, from Morden, Manitoba, regularly visit hog farms. Animal care is assessed stringently as part of federally recognized assurance programs.
The sector’s strong focus on continuous improvement has led to significant changes over the last number of years in both animal care training and investment in new barns and technologies. Hog farmers continue to modernize and update barns, including replacing older barns and equipment, like electrical systems and heating. These new investments have allowed farmers to adopt new technological advances that provide optimal care, like computerized feeding systems that ensure a proper diet for each individual pig’s unique needs, and the group housing of sows, allowing sows to socialize as they desire. Today, over 98% of pigs raised in Canada are housed in group pens.
Farmers, veterinarians, herdspersons, swine technicians, feed truck operators, transporters, barn managers, tradespeople, and others on the front line of caring for pigs are just some of the people who play a vital role in ensuring that pigs remain safe and healthy. Over 2,500 people across the province are employed on-farm as swine technicians and managers alone. All these highly skilled employees ensure that pigs receive individualized care each day.
Training programs help to provide those who work with pigs a strong background in key animal care principles. This includes training that shares knowledge, skills, resources, and workplace culture which helps reinforce the empathy and high standards of animal care that is expected. For example, herdspersons are trained to handle animals safely, ensuring that pigs are handled with minimal stress. Another example is transporters, responsible for hauling pigs to federally inspected processing facilities, who are required to receive Transport Quality Assurance training to ensure the safe care and transport of pigs in all weather conditions and other variables.
Manitoba Pork, the organization representing Manitoba’s 600 hog farms, and others in the industry also help fund new cutting-edge research at some of Canada’s leading academic institutions, like right here at home at the University of Manitoba. This research helps to ensure that all the various points in the hog sector continue to lead with the best possible care for animals. Since 1999, Manitoba’s hog farmers have contributed over $10 million on third party, independent, swine-related research.
No matter the day of the week or the month of the year, Manitoba’s hog farmers remain committed to caring for their animals. Around the world, Manitoba pork is seen as among the highest quality protein, and that’s only because of the dedication farmers and those working in the hog sector put in to raise healthy pigs who are well cared for and nurtured as they grow.
To learn more, visit manitobapork.com/animalcare