I realize many farms do use chemical wormers. I also know small farms or organically oriented farms many times use chemical, commercial wormers.
We have used them in cases where stock was not responding to natural methods. By that I mean in the early years when we first started breeding Tamworth pigs we had some that did not do well in our type of system.
They got a parasite load that caused them to drop weight and if we would have let it go they would have been stunted or even sick enough to die from the worms. Although this only happened twice we pulled them off the pastures and chemically wormed them, got them well, and then sold them.
My experience tells me you can selectively breed for parasite resistance. But that's only one piece of the puzzle. Poor management will trump even the best genetics. You can take some of my Tamworth Hogs and put them in a small lot that eventually turns to dirt and manure and you could very likely expose them to enough of a parasite load to end up with problems.
A major drawback to killing these parasites with chemicals is that they tend to mutate very quickly in order to survive the onslaught, so new and more powerful chemicals have to be developed to kill them, and the cycle continues. If you are over using wormers it is even worse.
I recently spoke with someone about goats and they said that for round worms in goats the product SAFEGUARD is not effective in almost all of the United States because the round worms have become immune to it.
To me parasite resistance is one reason to avoid chemical wormers. I have seen research that indicates the wormers once they pass through the animal ends up in the soil. I don't want parasiticides in my soil.
Another product on the market is Ivermectin. While I certainly am not even close to an expert on any of these products natural or chemical, it just doesn't seem right to me that I can give my pigs a dose of Ivermectin and it not only kills the internal parasites, it also rids them of external parasites. I'm not sure how it does this, but it seems like the stuff actually poisons the critters through the skin. Not something I'm comfortable eating later on.
Which brings me to my next point. I'm not comfortable with the fact that my pork, beef, or chicken may have parasiticide residue in it. Now I know the research that has been done to indicate that it's is minimal and it's harmless. But I say err on the side of caution.
Scientific cleverness is what has caused many of the messes in modern agriculture. I look at it this way, if it is safe to consume or there is no residue even present by the time it gets to the table, great! All the people consuming this type of meat are at no risk.
But if it is harmful as we may find out down the road, I'm not effected nor are my customers because we don't use them.
Next time I'll talk about our approach to parasite control here at Spring Hill Farms.