Attention to Detail and Time Continue to Place Courtney Foster in Select Pride Rankings

posted on Thursday, March 15, 2018

“We ask a lot of our managers, but that’s because we know they’re capable of doing great things,” said Shamus Brown, Director of Multiplication for Iowa Select Farms. “Courtney continues to surprise us with her results. She’s timely, accountable and does a great job caring for her pigs.”

Brown is referring to Courtney Foster who manages Decatur, a 5,000-head nursery near Grand River in southern Iowa.

A native of Cassopolis, Michigan, Foster followed her passion for swine to Michigan State where she studied animal science and then onto Iowa, where she joined the Iowa Select Farms team in 2015 as an animal caretaker.

“I knew I wanted to pursue a career with Iowa Select full-time after spending a summer as a sow production intern,” Foster explained. “It was a good opportunity for me to understand the company, their culture and also see first-hand what modern pork production looked like.”

After spending 18 months at Thayer Sow Farm, Foster transferred teams to the multiplication/GDU system. Her first stop was Davis 2, where under the leadership of Ed Fry she learned the ins and outs (and ups and downs!) of gilt production. After five short months at Davis 2, Foster transferred to Adamson, then Damewood, Roger South and finally to Decatur, all nurseries and GDUs located in southern Iowa.

“For a while there it seemed like just when Courtney was getting comfortable we’d move her around,” joked Brown “But she has done really well with all of the challenges we’ve thrown her way. When we needed a manager at a site, she stepped up to the plate and didn’t complain. She has been a great team player.”

Brown is referring to the weeks when Foster would vaccinate thousands of pigs by herself, yet not ask for help once along the way.

“Being part of the multiplication team/family is truly amazing,” said Foster. “If someone needs help we are there for each other to make sure our farms thrive. I help others out because they’re just as quick to help and teach me. Everyone is just a phone call away if I need something and I truly appreciate that.”

In the short time that she’s been in the multiplication team Foster has found success.

“To have a successful farm you have to be willing to put in the time and pay attention to every detail," said Foster. “I am very attentive to my piglets and spend a lot of time with them. I walk the pens every single day and spend extra time with sick animals to make sure they’re all up, moving, eating and drinking. I take pride in knowing I’m doing my absolute best to keep them as healthy as possible.”

And Foster’s hard work is paying off!

While at Damewood she placed third in Quarter 2 multiplication Select Pride as a nursery and followed up Quarter 3 with fourth place as a grower with the same pigs. In the short amount of time she’s been at Decatur she’s been able to keep her mortality at 1.5% or lower – an achievement in and of itself!

“I have no doubt Courtney will continue to place well in our Select Pride rankings,” said Tysen Abell, Senior Multiplication Supervisor. “But what excites me most is the quality of pigs she’s producing for our system. The growers that receive her pigs are going to be getting some great animals.”

“You will never see the same issue at this farm twice,” continued Abell. “Courtney does an excellent job of paying attention to detail and learning from each group of pigs.”

For Foster, showing up for work every day is easy because she absolutely loves her job.

“It might seem silly for some, but I enjoy taking the time to sit in my pens to play and feed my baby piglets,” said Foster, as a smile spread across her face. “Giving them that extra attention helps them get started off on the right foot. Some of these pigs need extra love so they don’t fall behind and I’m going to make sure I do whatever it takes to provide our sow farms with the best, most productive replacement gilts as possible.”