Darren Celebrates 25 Years with Iowa Select Farms
Congratulations to Darren for celebrating 25 years with Iowa Select Farms!
It’s safe to say things have changed a lot in the past quarter century, and Darren certainly has a handful of stories to share. At the top of the list (which should come as no surprise as a GDU manager) are the major advancements made in breeding.
“When I first started, we bred everything with boars for the first mating and then we artificially inseminated for the 2nd and 3rd mating,” he recalled. “The company made the decision to switch to 100% AI I said, ‘No way will what work!’ Boy, was I wrong. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.”
Darren also remembers the first time he heard the word “Ponderosa” as talks of sow farms being built in the area started circulating. Of course, that’s now the home base of Sows 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22, but it’s a fun memory for Darren to look back on and remind him how far he and the company have come.
Since starting at Sow 17 as an entry-level animal caretaker, Darren’s career advanced into a breeding department head at Sow 15, GDU manager and multi-farm GDU manager.
“I’ve been farming since I was little and remember walking a quarter mile down our lane to watch sows farrow overnight,” he chuckled. “To think that I can continue raising cattle and crops on my family farm, while still having the time and flexibility to care for pigs is really the best of both worlds for me.”
In his current role, Darren is responsible for the daily animal and farm care at Shirley G039—a farm that is built on his family’s ground near Mount Ayr, making it easier for him to continue the family farm while also maintaining a job with excellent benefits.
“Iowa Select Farms has a really unique culture that I appreciate,” he said. “Even though we’ve grown so much since I started 25 years ago, it still has that friendly, hometown feel where everyone knows each other. I think that’s really cool.”
While there have been many memories made over the years, the one that sticks out most to Darren is when a lightning strike hit the roof of Howard M037 and the ceiling had fallen on several gates. “That easily takes the cake for my craziest day at work,” he chuckled. “My brother, Lee, and I rushed to the farm and were crawling on our hands and needs to move surviving gilts to another barn.”
Outside of work and when he’s not farming, Darren enjoys hunting fishing and is still trying to get his wife and two kids on their annual family vacation at some point (thanks COVID!).
Aside from keeping his pigs and cows well-cared for in this extraordinary cold weather, Darren isn’t quite sure what the future has in store, but is excited to just “keep on, keeping on” and take each day as it comes.
“I’m not very good at forecasting, especially considering I thought I’d only be here for a couple of years to supplement my farming income,” he smirked. “Well, clearly I’ve been here for more than just a couple of years, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. It’s been a fun ride and I’m excited to sell all that the future has in store.”
WOW! Congratulations on 25 years, Darren. We are grateful to have you on our team and appreciate all that you’ve done for Iowa Select Farms.