Arends Sow Farm Continues to Excel in Select Pride Placement

posted on Monday, April 2, 2018

“This farm has a come a long way in the past two years,” said Adam Swalla, Arends Sow 14 Farm Manager and long-time Iowa Select Farms employee. “To go from never placing in the Top 10 to consistently being in the number one spot is a huge accomplishment.”

Located near Stanhope, Arends Sow Farm is turning heads at Iowa Select with the highest farrowing rate in the company at 92.2%, strong pregnancy check positive (PCP) numbers around 94.4%, numerous weekly first place Select Pride rankings and a sixth place Select Pride overall finish in 2017 -- even as a PRRS positive farm.

“The crew at Arends is always willing to do what is necessary to make the farm better,” said Aaron Fopma, Sow Supervisor. “They worked hard during PRRS elimination so they could have a healthy farm. It added a whole new set of protocols, but they were able to adapt and execute the changes seamlessly. It is exciting to see the levels of production they are achieving and the “can do” attitude displayed by Adam and his crew is a big part of their success.”

If you think there is something in the water at Arends you might be right, but there is also a lot of hard work, determination, teamwork, honesty and respect. But, that hasn’t always been the case.

“When I took this farm over in November of 2015, attitude and morale were not in the best place,” recalled Swalla. “They were right in the middle of a depop, working long hours and getting frustrated with each other. I knew I needed to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

And Swalla isn’t talking figuratively. He literally jumped right in and started working right alongside the farm team. “I think my attitude, drive and work ethic was contagious,” said Swalla. “We really started focusing on celebrating the small wins, like getting done an hour early, and it just snowballed from there.”

In addition to Swalla and Greiner, the team at Arends is comprised of Breeding Department Head, Aaron Kliegl, Breed Lead, Cruz Castellanos, Animal Caretakers, Terry Stein, Manuel Alvarez, Kylie Bergren, Alexis Davis, Madison Draker, Haley Freelove, Brittany Landwehr, Casey Murray, Heather Spitler, Mirna De Vasquez and student intern, Casey Gustin.

“The farrowing department is very colorful,” joked Swalla. “They are fun, spunky and outgoing. They keep everyone laughing, which I think is a huge factor to our success, but they also know when it’s time to buckle down. They do a great job getting healthy weaned pigs out the door and keeping the sows in good condition through lactation, which has really helped our total born numbers.”

Other factors contributing to success at Arends is the strong breeding department. “Adam’s leadership has been huge in changing this farm to be a top performer week in and week out,” said Director of Sow Production, Dan Dean. “He has trained his breeding department well and they do a great job of identifying animals in heat, breeding effectively and getting those animals to farrowing. They know what their priorities are stick to them.”

The farm also spends a significant amount of time on training, communicating effectively amongst departments and also underwent a huge renovation in 2015 making it a positively-filtered facility with open pen gestation.

“I never thought I’d be thankful for my days on load and vaccinating crews as an 8th grader,” joked Swalla. “But it really taught me a lot about pen management and I’ve been able to apply that knowledge here. We focus on managing the pens all day, not just when we’re choring. The filtration has also been a huge improvement in air quality and animal health.”

As April nears and Quarter 1 comes to closer, the team at Arends is looking to continue pushing forward and seeking improvement wherever possible. Some highlights of the farm’s current 10-week averages include 15.8 total born, 14.1 born alive, 92.4% farrowing rate and PCP of 95.7%

“Simply put, these guys are kicking butt,” gleamed a proud Swalla. “And I’m confident if we continue focusing on staying healthy, following all biosecurity protocols and our sow replacement rates, we’ll be able to stay on top all year.”