The Important Role of Veterinarians

Veterinarians are vital to protecting the health of our animals, and in turn, the public’s health. They help guard against disease among pigs and between pigs and people, ensuring only healthy pigs enter the food chain.

Farmers have strong relationships with veterinarians, who help develop a herd health plan to:

  • Diagnose and treat sick animals
  • Maintain animal health records
  • Prevent the introduction of viruses and bacteria that threaten the herd
  • Enhance herd disease immunity with appropriately timed vaccinations
  • Care for sick pigs through responsible antibiotic use
  • Develop strategies to minimize disease risk through barn design, pig movement, vaccination protocols, herd health monitoring, disease surveillance and appropriate diagnostics

Veterinarians believe that animals, just like humans, should be cared for and treated when they are sick. Medications like antibiotics are sometimes necessary, just as they are in humans. As part of their training, they take an oath to care for animals in a way that improves their welfare and benefits society.

Veterinarians have helped the pork industry deliver on its three-point antibiotic stewardship pledge to promote research, pig farmer education, and consumer and influencer outreach. Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA® Plus) training and assessment addresses safe and appropriate antibiotic use. Through closer guidance by veterinarians and with the vast majority of pig farmers now certified through PQA® Plus, the occurrence of antibiotic residue exceeding regulatory maximums in pork is extremely rare today.

These research and stewardship-related efforts are already making an impact. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, domestic sales of all medically important antimicrobials intended for use in food-producing animals decreased by 33% between 2016 and 2017. Pig farmers are dedicated to identifying new ways to decrease the overall need for antibiotics.

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“I solemnly swear that I will use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society. I will strive to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering, protect the health of the public and environment, and advance comparative medical knowledge.” – Excerpt from the Veterinarian Oath