Have you ever bitten into a delicious slice of bacon or enjoyed a pork chop? If so, you may have tasted the hard work of a very special veterinarian, Dr. Jewel White.
Dr. White is not just any vet; she's a pig vet! As a manager of animal health, she looks after pigs all day at Maple Leaf Agri-Farms. "I am one of the few practitioners in Manitoba who solely looks after pigs and not other species," she says.
Her job is important for a couple of reasons. First, she makes sure the pigs are healthy, which means you get safe and delicious pork to eat. She's like a detective for pig health, using advanced tools to keep the animals healthy. For example, she relies on state-of-the-art technology to analyze diagnostic samples.
But that's not all. Dr. White helps the planet too. By keeping pigs healthy, she makes sure there's plenty of pork to go around without wasting resources. She's part of a big team at Maple Leaf Foods committed to creating food without harming the earth.
In fact, she’s one of 22,000 Manitobans who make their living in the Manitoba hog sector and pork processing. Dr. White says there are a wide variety of jobs available in pork production, most of which involve handling and caring for the animals. On-the-farm jobs include farmers, swine technicians, veterinarians, animal care technicians, barn managers, tradespeople, and maintenance and office staff.
Some jobs require more training or experience than others, says Dr. White, but you absolutely must have one qualification: “A natural love of animals and their well-being.”
Dr. White thinks pigs are amazing animals for hundreds of reasons – 185, to be exact.
"There are actually over 185 different uses for the pig besides providing us with meat. No other animal can provide as wide a range of products as the pig. To reduce waste and respect the animals, the non-edible parts, called by-products, can be used to create products for other industries.”
For example, pig hair is used in hairbrushes, pig skin is used in leather furniture and clothing, and the gelatine extracted from the skin is used as a thickening agent in food production.
“We use everything but the oink!”
Find out more!
Check out our video interview with Dr. Jewel where she answers questions submitted by students: