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Monday, February 27, 2012

Some thoughts on worms

I've been thinking alot lately about pigs.  This weekend my Dh and I had the most interesting conversation about pig parasites :)  We are going to have 30 pigs on 3 acres, they are coming from a big commercial farm.  I am trained to be suspicious and assume these 30 pigs will have a large worm load.  Pig ascarid eggs can survive up to 5 years in our soils, even in our harsh winter weather!  I wanted to keep things as clean as possible.  Again I am trained to wipe out the worms to assure the highest economic return.  High parasite load=poor health, therefore no parasites=best health.  I was trying to figure out how to deworm these piglets to wipe out any potential worm burdens when my DH gently intercepted me. 

Instead of falling into my 'past life' knee jerk reaction of bugs are bad I started using this newly developing holistic brain.  Our (mammalian) bodies have evolved surrounded by trillions of bacteria, viruses, and yes, intestinal parasites.  Study after study has shown that our bodies NEED to interact with the outside world to function as they were designed (in a Darwinian context of course!).  This morning I even found studies that suggest that intestinal nematodes are helpful to people with IBD.   Just as I vehemently disagree with kids who never get to eat dirt and are sanitized into an unhealthy state, I think the same may be true for animals.

{{{What if all these years of deworming puppies over and over, and then placing them on their monthly heartworm medince (dewormer) was really a disservice?   All those dogs with allergies and auto-immune problems.   Deworm, vaccinate and put on crappy food, how could we expect anything less?  Yes I was protecting their humans from zoonotic parasites, but....AGGGG this is so hard!  At least for now I don't have to be recommending anything to pet owners because I really don't know what is right.}}}

For the pigs though I do need to have a plan.  I am putting them in a very unnatural situation by confining them to 3 acres.  To ignore a high worm burden would be a big mistake and one that would have consequences for many years with millions of eggs in the soil.  To blithely deworm the stuffing out of them is not right either.  As usual the best route is in the middle.  I will find a natural product which is proven to be effective.  My goal is not annhilation but symbiosis.  Garlic?  Diatomaceous Earth?  I can be objective about the effectiveness by checking fecal egg counts.  Living on the cusp between two different worlds is hard, but I hope I can take the best of each without making my head explode!

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