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She’s no “typical” farmer!

Vet tech turned pig farmer in the 2011 Faces of Farming calendar

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Pigs have captured the interest of Katherine Zurczak, a registered Veterinary Technician and city girl turned farmer.

Zurczak had her first encounter with pigs while studying to be a veterinary technician at Ridgetown College.  She was quickly fascinated by her work with the animals, and after graduating in June of 2009, began working at Hog-Wild Farms Ltd. in Ontario.

The face of November in the 2011 calendar

“I took a summer job in Ridgetown’s pig barn.  I knew I wouldn’t be happy working with cats and dogs after that.  It had to be pigs,” says Zurczak.

Zurczak is the farrowing room technician at the farm, and uses her training as a veterinary technician to give the young animals the best possible care.  Zurczak attends pork industry conferences whenever she can to be aware of new technologies.  In November, Zurczak also attended EuroTier in Germany, the world’s leading exhibition of animal husbandry and management.

Her passion for pigs and agriculture helped Zurczak to be featured in the 2011 Faces of Farming calendar published by the Ontario Farm Animal Council.  Zurczak has the honour of being the very first registered Veterinary Technician to ever appear in the calendar, which aims to help consumers learn about the people behind the food they eat. The calendar is mailed, as a complimentary gift from Ontario’s farmers to about 4,000 media, politicians, grocery stores and butcher shops each year.

“It’s great that the calendar puts faces to everyone who does these things,” says Zurczak, adding she often surprises people when they learn she works in a pig barn.

Being a veterinary technician helps Zurczak bring a high level of welfare to the animals on the farm.  She finds it rewarding to use her training to better care for the young animals and to make sure the animals are comfortable and healthy. 

Zurczak is not your average farm employee, having been raised in Tilbury with no farm exposure.  She enrolled in the veterinary technician program with plans to work at a small animal clinic, with no thoughts of farming.  The more time she spent at Ridgetown College, though, the more she fell in love with agriculture.

“The farmers at school get you with their enthusiasm.  You see it (agriculture) is a whole new world, and you want to be part of it,” she says.

Zurczak plans on staying in agriculture in the future, and says if she does eventually return to a more traditional role at a veterinary clinic, it would be working with large animals.

“Everything I now do revolves around pigs.  Working with them is the best decision I’ve made,” Zurczak says.
Zurczak is also learning about the dairy industry, and helps on her boyfriend’s dairy farm in her spare time.
“My life is so different than I thought it would be, but I am so happy.  I wouldn’t have it any other way,” says Zurczak.

To see the rest of the photos from the 2011 calendar visit http://www.ofac.org/calendar/calendar.php

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Posted by OFAC on March 8th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Faces of Farming,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Misconceptions,Pigs,Pork
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One Response to “She’s no “typical” farmer!”

  1. Crystal Mackay
    March 10th, 2011

    I’ve met this young lady, and she’s even more engaging in person. So passionate about caring for animals, and so enthusiastic about her career in farming. Very inspiring!

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