Livestock Care Standards…Hogwash! By Katie Myers-Griffith

I bet that title got your attention!  As a matter of fact, I am talking about hogwash – literally washing my hogs…caring for my hogs, feeding, watering, hauling, euthanizing – humanely.  Last month I had the pleasure to sit in a discussion room with the State Veterinarian, Dr. Tony Forshey (a Southeastern Ohio farmer with a lot of Veterinarian experience), Dr. David Glauer (technical writer for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board), Mike Bailey (Executive Director of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board), and a group of farmers similar to myself.

Basically, the livestock care standards are common sense.  Why we needed a state constitutional amendment, and the creation of another level of government to tell us how to behave responsibly is unknown to me.  I wasn’t a big fan of the seat belt law either.  None the less, they are rules now, and the rules need to be followed.

The gist of the rules in layman’s terms:

  • feed your animals
  • make sure they have water (quality and quantity) – yes, it is ok to feed pigs rain water.
  • make sure they are protected from adverse weather (this can mean a shanty of straw or the hog-mahal)
  • don’t cause them distress
  • limit their pain
  • allow Mommy animals to have privacy
  • and euthanise them correctly

At this meeting, I had a host of questions…

?  Am I allowed to let my hens molt naturally?  Of course.

? Am I allowed to pull my pig’s ear to get him to step up into the trailer?  Um, no, not a good idea, suggested a chute and panel to coax him into the trailer.

? What if I put a goat down and it doesn’t die from the first shot…am I allowed to unload a few rounds? Absolutely not, we recommend waiting, checking the eyes, and begin the procedure over again OR euthanise with one of the other recommended methods.

The newly adopted standards are enforced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  This program is completely complaint driven.  Inspectors will not be showing up on your farm routinely or randomly.  If there is a valid complaint, it will be looked into.  This board is about care, not cruelty.  This board does not replace the local humane officers.  They do not deal with cruelty cases.  They do try to work with farmers to become compliant.  Sometimes, this means asking them to fix a fence line, pump clean water from the pond, or offer an animal straw for bedding.

Bottom line, livestock farmers should not be afraid of the Ohio Department of Agriculure.  Dr. Forshey was very kind and more than willing to talk to me personally about my farm, my animals, and my management practices.  If you have questions and need assistance in intrepreting the rules…CALL THE ODA (614.728.6220)!

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