Hog farmer: PED virus “devastating”

In this March 3, 2014 photo sows at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Ind., lay in nesting boxes, left, inside a larger group pen, while another eats inside an electronic feeding stall, right. Animal rights activists have been pushing hog farmers to move pregnant pigs into group pens from individual gestation stalls often too narrow for the animals to turn around. (AP Photo/M.L.Johnson)
In this March 3, 2014 photo sows at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Ind., lay in nesting boxes, left, inside a larger group pen, while another eats inside an electronic feeding stall, right. Animal rights activists have been pushing hog farmers to move pregnant pigs into group pens from individual gestation stalls often too narrow for the animals to turn around. (AP Photo/M.L.Johnson)

CLARK COUNTY, Ill. (WTHI) – It’s been tough-going for hog farmers since 1998, and it’s only gotten tougher in the last year.

A new virus has killed millions of hogs nationwide which has the industry on edge.

The Wes Pork Nursery in Clark County, Ill. is what hog farmers call a “wean to finish” operation. They take in what are called “weaner hogs” that are about 18 days old and weighing 12 to 13 pounds.

They’ll stay here six weeks and leave at 55 to 60 pounds moving on to what’s called a finishing unit.

There’s a lot of work involved in raising hogs and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea or “PED” virus has made that work that much tougher.

“It’s a tough one,” said Terry Welsh.  “It’s come on roughly a year ago, and it’s taken everything by storm.”

Welsh has been involved with hog farming his entire life.  He’s seen a lot of viruses come and go, but nothing as devastating at the PED virus.

While the virus attacks all pigs, piglets are most vulnerable.

“Death loss in them can be 75 to 80 percent or better,” said Welsh.

So how is this virus affecting you at home?  You’re going to be paying more for your pork chops for the foreseeable future and Welsh said a drop in prices may not come until a vaccine for this virus is developed.

So far, there’s no vaccine for the PED virus.

Meanwhile, the hog market has rallied 40 to 50 percent with no end in sight. Keeping hogs alive during this virus outbreak will certainly challenge hog farmers.

“We try to do everything we can here, but there’s only so much you can do. That’s just part of raising hogs,” said Welsh.

According to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, PED does not affect humans nor is it a food safety concern.

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