Alex: Problem Solving Approach Drives Up Livability

posted on Thursday, October 6, 2022

Alex leaning on a stall

“Early identification and the right decision-making are key to keeping our sows healthy,” said Alexander Umbaugh, sow retention specialist.

Alex has good experience in animal science and care but also has a passion for teaching.

Alex grew up in the small community of Adair, Iowa. His father grew up on a small family farm where they raised pigs, cattle, chickens and other animals. While Alex grew up in town, he stayed involved in livestock through FFA and 4-H. He pursued an ag studies degree at Iowa State University with aspirations to become an ag teacher.

“When I saw a body condition specialist position open up, I jumped at the opportunity,” shared Alex. I like the focused approach to measuring our sow’s condition paired with the proper diet and feed volume to maintain her best health and care. Best of all, it has a strong teaching component and allows me to make an impact.”

Alex’s position now fits into the broader focus on promoting livability and animal welfare. Today, Alex assists sow farms in creating livability solutions. His input helps the animals on the farms thrive.

Sandy Hill Sow Farm, where Alex served as the breeding department head, has seen just how impactful Alex’s expertise is.

“I started meeting with the team monthly, going over what is and isn’t working, and having good conversations about how we can keep improving our livability metrics. They are awesome about sticking to the new processes, like two-person choring and hand-feeding—which helped them increase sow livability at the farm,” said Alex.

Max Klepper, manager at Sandy Hill, agrees. “Alex came in and worked with our breeding department head, Juan, to develop a pen-making process. We see less sow competition and aggression in our pens by making them more uniform in size and parity. This leads to better overall comfort, fewer injuries and better overall livability.”

Alex says he’s proud of the progress the teams at the farms have made. “I firmly believe if we stay positive and work together, we can find a solution for anything.”