Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dirt Hog :: Chapter 7 Book Report

"Anyone who is serious about outdoor production should focus on breaking the pattern of dependence on the practices and products that have cast such a shadow over animal agriculture of late. You cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear, nor can you create quality pork out of a stress-laden and severely driven confinement situation." That is what Kelly Klober had to say in the opening paragraphs of chapter seven (Herd Health) in his book "Dirt Hog". It may not be a popular statement in some circles (each to their own and stuff), but I think it is very thought provoking and even a bit insightful.

In this chapter Mr. Klober tackles many issues related to swine herd health and what a hog farmer should know how to do, but I thought that it was interesting (and encouraging) that he began the chapter by discussing the overall (almost holistic) benefits of raising hogs outdoors and like people used to. He is not opposed to advancements in medical care or knowledge, but he it does seem to think that those needs can be greatly lowered when you take the pigs outside again. I tend to agree and experienced many of those same things with our first batch, and was also able to see it on other farms through the recent online farm tours that I was able to watch.

I should also point out that Mr. Klober seemst to think the middle of the road (yet natural) way of production is best. He writes that he is not sold on "organic" yet (although he doesn't define it so much), but part of that is because he wonders how "organic" acres of cropland can be in the Midwest. Also, he cites the lack of availability of feed as an issue. I agree those are both points to ponder, but it doesn't write off organic.

That discussion is not all this chapter is about though. I found a lot of good information in the sections on necessary skills (castrations, injections, taking temperatures, processing baby pigs, and knowing when to call a vet), simple restraints, health care supplies (having them in one place and close by), and what to think about and watchout for through the life of a pig on the farm. All in all, I think a book expanding on the basic ideas in this chapter would be worth its weight in gold (and gold is pretty pricey now).

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