For all mothers and especially those in swine industry: today’s Expert Opinion was written for them. Around Mother’s Day, swine nutrition technology expert Dr Casey Bradley looks back on her time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and how those experiences made her think outside the box for piglet and sow nutrition around farrowing.
Yesterday, I celebrated my 4th Mother’s Day and cannot believe my son Arthur will be turning 5 in July. You may or may not know my motherhood story. During the end of my 2nd trimester I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and hospitalised. Arthur was born at 27.5 weeks of gestation and like his mother he has been quite resilient and now is thriving.
I wanted to write this piece in honour of all the mothers in the world and especially the ones in the swine industry. We each have our own stories and our own challenges. I postponed motherhood for my career, but at the same time there is so much I have learned as a mother that makes me a better professional, with the biggest trait being empathy.
But as a nutritionist, my journey has also made me reconsider the opportunities we have not yet discovered in maternal and neonatal nutrition for pigs. For starters, we know that low birth weight pigs have a lower survivability and are not optimal performers. But I challenge us to question this reality: ‘Is that because predetermined factors or missed interventions via the sow or piglet?’
As more research is done from birth to slaughter, we are also realising that changes made to the sow or the piglet early in life can have lasting effects, either positive or negative, later in life.
For those that have kept up with my columns, thank you. You can see that my perceptions and ambitions have changed based on my reflections as a NICU mother and I challenge you to the same. How can you create something better for our industry? To my fellow mothers, thank you and remember that I will continue to support you as a professional in the swine industry.
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