Youth exhibitors should consider deworming options for their show pigs: Other methods to increase the health of your animals (Part 3)

As youth exhibitors in Michigan prepare their animals for fair, they should map out a pig care strategy. This includes being mindful of the need and considering their options for controlling parasites.

Caring for their animals is a priority of youth exhibitors that're taking pigs to county fairs and other exhibitions. They closely monitor the growth and health of their animals so that they have an outstanding project at the fair. One health concern for exhibition swine is the chance of parasite infections which can impact the growth and desirability of the animal.

Using the correct deworming product and maintaining a deworming schedule are two of the things exhibitors can do to protect the health of their animal. Below are some additional steps that exhibitors should consider for reducing incidence and severity of parasitic diseases in their animals.  

  1. Purchase animals only from a reputable show pig producer; Ideally, someone you know who has a reputation for producing healthy animals. Obtain a health certificate that describes each treatment your animal received prior to purchase. Make sure that it's received at least one dose of an antiparasitic agent. 
  2. Clean and disinfect your barn or rotate pastures prior to pig placement in order to reduce (almost impossible to eliminate) exposure to coccidia and roundworm eggs. Ascaris and coccidia eggs are highly resistant to most disinfectants and can persist for up to 10 years in pasture and heavily soiled areas in barns. However, removing as much feces and debris as possible can help reduce exposure to roundworm (and coccidia) eggs (4). 
  3. When bringing your pig home (both at purchase and following the fair), be sure to keep it in a separate pen for at least two (and ideally 4) weeks from other pigs in your care in order to ensure that it's healthy and has time to adapt to its new environment before being comingled with other animals. 
  4. Follow sound biosecurity practices (4) to control rodents and other wildlife that typically carry infectious larvae or roundworms, mites and lice into barns and pastures. Practice other biosecurity measures to prevent mechanical transmission of parasite eggs, especially movement of people and vehicles between farms where pigs are being kept. 

In summary, there are a number of different deworming products that youth exhibitors can utilize to help keep their animals as healthy as possible and parasite free. It's important to choose a product that covers a number of different parasites, especially those that are common in Michigan. Although it;s good practice for all swine owners, if you house your animals outside, choose a product that also addresses lice and manage infections. If possible, keep your animals on a deworming schedule and rotate your deworming medications so that you have the best efficacy and coverage against all internal and external parasites. If your pig will be slaughtered after the fair, be mindful of any drug withdrawal periods required for products you are using. Remember that even the most effective pararsiticide rotation cannot overcome the risks to animal health posed by poor nutrition, animal husbandry or failure to practice solid biosecurity. 

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