Davis #2 GDU Finishes #1 Overall

posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019

After a third place SelectPride finish in quarter one of 2018, the crew at Davis #2 Gilt Development Unit (GDU) in Thayer, Iowa—Ed Fry, Deana Welcher and Les Vanderpluym—knew they could do better.

“We all agreed third place was good, but not good enough,” recalled Deana. “We started to write down what we needed to improve to get the number one spot.”

First on the list—pregnancy check positive (PCP) rates needed to go up.

Ed Fry

“In theory, high PCP rates mean we’re doing our job breeding gilts well and consistently,” said Ed, who has been a GDU manager with Iowa Select Farms for 20 years. “Our goal is to successfully breed 100 gilts a week, but we’re allotted 115 to help make our targets. The better we do, the higher our PCP.”

Other areas the team identified for improvement were paperwork, heat checking and site assessments. For months, the crew worked on maintaining their consistency in those areas. And although quarters two and three didn’t bring the first place results they had hoped, they kept pushing.

“This is a crew that has truly given it their all,” said GDU director, Jeremiah Hall. “They were down a person, and worked extra hard to cover all of the chores. On top of that, they neighbor six PRRS positive sow farms and managed to follow all biosecurity practices to remain PRRS negative. That’s quite an accomplishment and speaks highly of their attention to detail to biosecurity.”

At the beginning of quarter four, Kristian Davis joined the farm team.

“When we added Kristian, it was the little push we needed to finally be the best,” said Deana. Deana Welcher“We all work really well together.”

In addition to welcoming a new team member, they fully embraced the “6 P’s to success”, which means (ehem, excuse our French)—proper planning prevents piss poor performance.

“It’s something that Jeremiah told us back in 2017 and it’s stuck ever since,” chuckled Ed. “It’s simple. The more you plan, the better you do.”

Every morning at 6 a.m., Ed, Deana, Kristian and Les gathered in the farm office to talk through the day’s goals. At 6:30, they dropped feed and started tackling their to-do lists. They knew it was important to start each day with a meeting.

“In my eyes, we’re all managers here,” said Ed. “That means communicating everything so we’re always on the same page, reaching towards the same goals.”

One of those goals was finally reached last week at the company’s production management meeting. Davis #2 was the named the 2018 overall GDU.

“A farm can have a high PCP but if they don’t rock their production well-being and biosecurity assessments, they’re not going to be in the number one spot,” explained Jeremiah. “This farm went above and beyond.”Davis #2 Team

Ed, Deana, Les and Kristian ended the year with 93.8% PCP (.8 above goal), 98.7% on their production well-being assessment (3.7% above goal) and 99.09% on their four biosecurity assessments (4.90% above goal).

“Ending the year on such a high note is the best,” said Ed. “We powered through the tough months and finally made it to the top.”