Animal care, 365 days a year.
Walking into the office of Rout Sow 2 near Blairsburg, visitors are greeted by something they might not typically expect to see at a pig farm—air mattresses, comforters, DVDs and a large TV.
“We’re ready for another snowpocalypse,” joked Courtland Van Arsdale, one of the farm’s breeding animal caretakers. “When you’ve been getting as much snow as we have lately, it’s not a matter of if you’re going to have to sleep at the farm, it’s when.”
Animal care is a top priority for Iowa Select Farms, which is why employees don’t hesitate to take turns staying overnight at the farm when inclement weather may prevent them making it back the next day.
“Our pigs receive care 365 days a year,” explained farm manager, Roberta Weide. “We joke that they don’t know when half of our team can’t get to the farm and the other half can’t get out because of snow, but the reality is that they need us every single day to ensure they have food, heat and water. We never put the pigs’ health or well-being in jeopardy.”
Even with Spring right around the corner it doesn’t mean anyone on the farm—Roberta Weide, Hunter Carmichael, Jeff Cormaney, Heather day, Gabe Story, Keara Day, Sandra Janowski, Vironica Mitchell, Juan Ochoa Duran, Sara Schlachter, Becky Schwab, Jane Story, Courtland and George Van Arsdale—is going to slow down when it comes to animal care.
In 2018, the farm weaned nearly 120,000 pigs—a true accomplishment considering they were (and continue to be) PRRS positive.
“Consistency is key in surviving PRRS and this farm has got it down,” said sow supervisor, Chris Nydegger. “Whether it’s heat checking, AI-ing, feed use or day one care, the team at Sow 2 follows through with their routines and priorities every single day.”
The farm also keeps close tabs on their weekly production numbers like total born (TB), pregnancy check positive (PCP) and breed targets so they can compare themselves to other farms.
“Like most farms, we’re very competitive,” chuckled Jane Story, breeding department head. “If we’re not meeting our production objectives, we sit down and discuss what we can be doing better. Sometimes it’s weekly, sometimes it’s daily. It just depends on how we’re doing. It’s important to hold ourselves accountable.”
Going through PRRS means a lot of extra meetings for the farm team, but it has been paying off with strong production numbers. The farm ended Q4 with 15.6 TB, 14 born alive, 94.6% PCP and a 91% farrow rate—which is exceptionally high as it reflects sows bred during some of the warmest weeks of 2018.
“I think one of the reasons this farm has seen continued success is because they’re truly committed to reaching their goals,” continued Chris. “An example is how much time and effort they take training employees. Rather than a few days, they spend months developing new hires until they’re fully comfortable with their job. That’s just the culture they’ve established.”
Whether it’s commitment to animal care, training, meeting production targets or simply making sure everyone at work has a smile on their face—the team at Sow 2 is getting it done. Now in quarter 1 of 2019, the farm continues to lead company-wide production rankings.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about attitude and perseverance,” said Roberta. “When everyone works together towards the same goals, you’re going to succeed. It may take a while, but you’re eventually going to make your way towards the top.”
Congratulations to the entire crew at Sow 2 for earning the first place spot in Q4 of 2018. Keep up the great work!