Over the past few weeks, I have spent quite a lot of time assisting with swine health checks at multiple county fairs in the local area. As a result, I have watched well over 600 pigs exit trailers and strut (or downright run) across pens and show rings. After observing so many hogs and checking for lameness, pain, any unusual skin markings or growths, or other abnormalities, I came to understand that they have so many different personalities and each pig is unique. They are intelligent, curious and affectionate creatures, so I know that I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.
I was shocked at how much even something as simple as the way that they exit the trailer could tell me about how they interact with the world around them. Just like us, no two pigs see the world the same way. Some enjoy the limelight and being center-stage…attention hogs, if you will…jumping out of the trailer as if they were putting on a show. Others, however, are more timid and shy, a little more cautious about their surroundings, preferring to survey all of their options before making any decisions.
Every pig has a different approach to life, and it was about time that I noticed it and became more well-versed in pig behavior and personality. This eureka moment is so incredibly important for my future as a livestock veterinarian. Because every animal is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to handling them or treating them. This applies to any species that I work with, and it has opened my eyes. As important as it is to keep the big picture in mind, taking a moment to learn about and appreciate an individual’s differences has the power to benefit the collective well-being of a group, herd, or population.