I need to keep the information moving, it's one of the most powerful tools we have
Very sharp, analytical and extremely organized describes Kayla, our health services technician at Iowa Select Farms. And graduating at the age of 20 with a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science from Iowa State University also demonstrates her ability to work efficiently and process information quickly, traits that are perfectly aligned with her position on our team. Though Kayla is best known by her peers as the coordinator of the Health Status Report and biosecurity downtime matrix—a document she regularly emails out to all employees and contractors—her contribution to the billion pound journey is rooted in the idea that information is power.
We have a commitment to excellent animal care, and good herd health also plays a huge role in the well-being of our animals. Kayla works to track and measure the health status of all of our farms by collecting information, populating spreadsheets, building Gantt charts, analyzing data and identifying trends. Then daily, she feeds it back to our veterinarians and production management team so they can make decisions such as where to place pigs (meaning, a specific barn in a specific “flow”) if the pigs need to be treated or receive additional care from the farm teams.
And Kayla’s treatment records go back many, many years giving her the ability to give an accurate and detailed report of the health activity on any gene transfer center, multiplier, sow farm or GDU in our system, along with the nurseries and finishers where those pigs flowed.
A sequencing database—which records the precise order of nucleotides within a DNA molecule including the bases adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine in a strand of DNA—gives her team the entire medical history of each farm, something that’s oftentimes challenging to capture in humans. This allows us to compare PRRSv and SIV strains across all farms in our system and make better decisions based on past actions with that specific strain.
And through our partnership with the Iowa State University, North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Labs, blood samples and cultures are sent to those labs and results come back in the form of emails and through online webpages, all results that Kayla captures, logs, identifies for certain percentages matched and then pushes back out to the farms.
We also share information with other area producers, in fact Kayla is the coordinator for two Area Regional Control (ARC) projects in southwest and northeast Iowa, a collaborative effort where producers share information to identify how PRRS moves through a geography and then work together to mitigate risk and manage biosecurity better. She also collaborates with the USDA to share information on PEDv and PDCoV, two viruses that are under surveillance on a national level, in effort to minimize these viruses throughout the entire US pork industry.
What’s Kayla’s answer to her contribution to the billion pound journey? “I monitor and track heath data quickly and accurately to give our team the power to evaluate, make sound decisions and improve the system from a health standpoint. I need to keep the information moving, because it’s one of the most powerful tools we have to animal care and health." #billionpounds