Jamestown Sow Farm (Sow 33)

posted on Thursday, August 3, 2017

“This team has worked hard to get this farm started,” said Kaci Pohlman, manager of the new Jamestown Sow Farm (Sow 33) located near Riceville. “We’ve found our groove and we’re in a routine now. And the best part? We’re having fun.”

It was a cold, windy and rainy day just three short months ago when Kaci, her newly formed team, and 800 members of the community celebrated the opening of Jamestown Sow Farm. “I gave tour after tour, recalled Kaci, we were all excited to be able show the public the inside of a farm,” said Kaci.

The celebration quickly turned into hard work and hustle as the team washed, sanitized and prepared to welcome what would eventually be over 100 loads of gilts into the farm. “Melissa, Sal and I got organized and put together a plan on how we were going to get all of the work done while also training brand new employees and building a unified team,” said Kaci.

Melissa Mayer, who transferred from Sow 24, is the farrowing department head, and Sal Gomez, who transferred from Sow 27, leads the breeding department. Together they’ve been engaging the employees in fun activities to get to know each other and even created their own version of Jeopardy to help with technical terms.

“Some of the games that we’ve played have been absolutely hilarious and have people laughing until it hurts,” said Sal. “Of course at first they all questioned our sanity, but we are so much closer now as a result of these team-building activities which is great for the entire farm. The more cohesive we are, the better our production is going to be.”

The employees are nearly through the start-up and are weaning close to 4,200-4,300 pigs a week. And they are already hitting a 14.4 born alive with their gilts—above their target. “We’ve gotten a handle on running this farm and we’re focused on all of those little details that will help us push those numbers higher,” said Melissa. “The positive pressure filtration has made a noticeable difference in air quality and our ability to keep pigs cool and comfortable—there’s never any variation in temperature no matter where you are in the barn.”

“I’ve been so impressed with how well the team--and the breeding projects that supported Sow 33--have handled the sheer volume of work,” said Dan Dean, Senior Sow Supervisor for Iowa Select Farms. “There has been more than 10,000 animal movements and that’s just internally. Every day the team continues to adjust and everything is always under control. Their willingness to learn new things, adapt and think in a more thoughtful manner has really impressed me. One wrong turn could have resulted in significant issues, but they’ve done a remarkable job.”

The team has also had to adapt to the new layout, and get used to a lot more walking. “The size of this farm has been an adjustment for all of us, that’s for sure,” said Kaci. “We joke that Segway’s would be helpful to get from one end to the other.”

But other than the size and the layout, the pig care at Sow 33 isn’t any different than any other sow farm. “It always goes back to the basics of care, covering all of the details in our daily routines and focusing on the big picture,” said Kaci. "I try to explain that we will not always be breeding gilts (something that is very uncommon for sow farms) and moving this many animals. The light at the end of the tunnel is near and we’re excited to start weaning some more pigs!”

When they’re running at full production, Sow 33 will wean more than 200,000 pigs annually, a significant contribution to the company goal of producing 1 billion, 57 million pounds of pork in 2017.

“They’ve come a long way, and will get this farm exactly where it needs to be,” said Mark Lee, who supervises Sow 33. “Kaci has a tremendous track record from her leadership at Sow 24, and paired with Sal and Melissa they have a lot of experience.”

“Success doesn’t happen by accident,” continued Mark. “It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work, determination and showing up day-after-day until the job is done and that’s exactly what this team is doing.” #billionplus