Online educational opportunity for youth in pork production

Online educational opportunity for youth in pork production

The National Pork Board has continuously made improvements to the Youth Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program. This program is an educational tool and certification course designed to help young pork producers, 4-H and FFA members learn about Good Production Practices (GPP) when raising pigs. On a three year schedule the Youth PQA Plus program is reviewed by a panel of experts and updated to reflect changes in the industry and improvements to help with the management of the program.

PQA Plus highlights areas of animal care and well-being and focuses on teaching youth how to raise a products that are desired by the consumer, while keep food safety at the forefront. Beth Ferry, a Michigan State University Extension educator says that “The Youth PQA Plus program is a premier educational opportunity for youth involved in the pork industry, providing them with resources and information that will help understand how to provide proper care for their animal. By allowing youth to complete this training online the National Pork Board has made this program even more accessible for youth all over the United States”.

The good production practices that are discussed in the online tutorial align with the PQA Plus program for producers and include various different concepts. Examples of these include; when raising animals it is important to have a veterinarian client patient relationship (VCPR). Having a veterinarian that has swine experience that you can contact with questions or for guidance with your animals, a veterinarian can diagnose a disease or health issue, advice you on which medical products you should use to treat your animals and give you access to prescription medications if needed.

Other areas that are covered during the online program are the benefit of having a biosecurity plan for your farm. This includes implementing methods to keep disease from entering your facility and infecting your pigs is the goal of a biosecurity plan. Simple things like changing your clothes and boots after visiting other animals and washing your hands before and after you work with your pigs are simple ways that you can decrease the health risk for your herd. It is also important for you to separate the pigs currently on your farm from new or incoming pigs, so that you can determine if one of the animals is carrying disease prior to mixing the animals.

The Youth PQA Plus program covers 10 good production practices and is an education program for youth ages 8 to 19. Youth ages 8 to 12 interested in the Youth PQA Plus certification program will need to work with an adult to log into the online training. The Youth PQA Plus certification program for ages 13 to 19 can also be found on the National Pork Board training page. In addition to the online training option, classes are also taught throughout the state by trained advisors in a face-to-face setting. For more information about face-to-face trainings, visit the MSU Extension Quality Assurance-Certifications page. 

This educational program is beneficial for all youth raising pigs and will help them learn about the pork industry, while teaching them the proper good production practices to use when raising their own animals. 

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