I help the mamas and make sure everything is as it should be
Sarah is the Day One at Sow 28 near Mount Ayr, and admittedly never saw herself working on a farm. After obtaining a degree in education and gaining experience in neo-natal care, she joined Iowa Select Farms because of the daytime hours, pay and benefits. Turns out her skill set was perfect for her role, which was joining the farrowing team where she provides care to the farrowing sows and their newborn piglets on their first few days of life.
“I help the mamas and make sure everything is as it should be,” said Sarah, who joined the farm in October 2015. “It starts with creating the right environment in the farrowing rooms, and then we check on food and water, closely monitor the health of the sows and help them give birth if need be. Then we’re also focused on the piglets—making sure they are warm, dry and taking in colostrum.”
Day Ones are also responsible for getting the farrowing rooms prepared and creating a calm birthing environment. “We turn the room lights down and keep the noise down, working off of farrowing cards strategically attached to the back of the stalls so we’re not walking in front of them a day.” Sarah adjusts heat lamps and mats, then positions the towels, drying agent and hot boxes/split suckle boxes so they are ready to go at a second’s notice. Farrowing totes with all necessary supplies are also at arm’s reach.
“With her background, she has a very nurturing approach that suits the Day One position very well, she is great at caring for the pigs and getting them started right,” said Mikey, the farm manager at Sow 28. “She’s always really good about taking one more lap through the farrowing rooms to check sows, and move piglets to a new home if they have too many littermates for one sow to feed. Her extra attention and care makes the next morning go smoothly for her team.”
Sow 28 is recovering from a PRRS break and is climbing back up the SelectPride ranking. In fact, thanks to Sarah and the farrowing team, the ten-week average for total born is back up to 14.1 (14.3 total born average over the last five weeks!) and their ten-week average for born alive is 12.8 (13 average born alive over the last 5 weeks!).
“I really enjoy this work, and knowing what we are doing as a Day One is making a difference in saving pigs and that makes me feel good about this job,” said Sarah. “It also helps that the communication on this farm is great. As a farrowing team we gather at the beginning of each day to get organized, make a schedule and I know the plan. It’s a priority for us, and then once we’re done we’re off and running.” #billionpounds
Sarah’s husband, Wes, is a nutrient management technician for Iowa Select Farms.