VIGO COUNTY, Ind. — Just in time for the Easter ham season, a still-new killer virus is preying upon baby pigs in 25 states, so far, even killing the piglets younger than 10 days, too weak to fight off the intruder known as “porcine epidemic diarrhea” virus.
“We’ve seen mad cow disease, but we’ve never seen nothing with the hogs yet,” said Wally Pohlman, whose family has owned and operated Pohlman’s Meat Processing in Vigo County, two miles north of Prairie Creek, the last 50 years.
The Pohlmans admitted to a notable reduction in the overall pig population, locally; getting your hands on a baby pig, he said, is nearly impossible nowadays.
Translation? An almost eminent pig shortage, possibly not able to be fully appreciated for another calendar year, will surely mean higher pork prices at the supermarket.
In addition to the already discernable difference in head-count among local pork producers the Pohlmans also owned up to the higher prices they must pass on to their own customers, a direct result, they claim, of this PED virus.
Platter bacon, for example, has increased $2 per-pound at the Pohlman meat shop the last year, Wally Pohlman admitted; whole hog sausage was $1.69 per-pound 12 months ago, compared to its current $2.09.
The deadly virus has been on the radar of pork producers roughly the last 12 months. What’s more, the bug is able to thrive in unsanitary conditions only exacerbated by these cold winter months, said one well-known local expert.
“And so, in the winter time it makes it that much more difficult to get trucks clean, when they move from place to place,” said Lindy Miller, Ph.D., the Purdue Extension Service educator in Greene County, Indiana.
“So, it makes it really difficult and this particular disease is really different in sow units, because if it gets into sow units, and affects the sows, it particularly affects the baby piglets,” Miller shared with News 10, confirming that the younger litters are much more vulnerable.
“Anything less than 10 days of age, there’s like a 100-percent mortality (rate)!”