“My favorite part of this job? The babies! Hands down. It’s fun watching healthy pigs run down the halls and getting as many pigs as we can out the door,” said Sow 23 farrowing department head, Dean, in reference to each morning when a new batch of pigs is weaned and loaded onto a gooseneck trailer.
The downside of caring so much about the work and the animals is when we have PRRS,” he admits. “It takes an emotional toll on us because we work so hard to keep the healthy.” Sow 23 has had its share of PRRS, breaking last fall and since then working to rebuild their production performance and get the farm back to healthy.
“Mary works hard to keep us upbeat and positive, and one of the ways we do that is to celebrate the little things,” said Dean. “She is our cheerleader and keeps morale high. We have pizza parties, potlucks, things like that to celebrate small victories and acknowledge when things are coming around.”
Dean has been at Sow 23 since 1999 and took the position of farrowing department head in 2004. Each week Dean and his farrowing team wean roughly 2,400 pigs, totally around 125,000 pigs this year, which pencils out to be a 34,694,400-pound contribution to the billion pound journey. An astounding number for a small—but mighty—farrowing team.
“Dean is very dedicated to his job as farrowing department head and is my right hand man when I am gone,” said Mary. “I trust things will be taken care of just the way I would do them, and that means a lot to be able to take some time off and not worry about things when I’m gone.”
Dean’s contribution to the billion pound journey? “Our sows are everything, we have to make sure they are healthy and comfortable, and be aggressive on timely treatment if they need it. After that, it’s all about those piglets, and getting as many healthy ones out the door, because that’s what makes it all worth it.” #billionpounds