Popcorn Sow Farm Earns Top Sow Farm for 2021

posted on Thursday, September 8, 2022

Popcorn team inside their farm
Congratulations to the team at Popcorn sow farm on another great run of SelectPride performance!

Looking back at the last year, Rhonda Root and her team of Jennifer Farewell, farrowing department head, Leann Murberger, breeding department head, Erik Aguilar Garcia, Doug Barnhard, Charles Davidson, Joshua Farewell, Alejandro Polanco Nestor and Cindy Valero secured the number one position in quarter one, quarter three and quarter four, then clinched the overall top sow farm for the year.

While some of the employees took on different roles—even moving to other departments--the changes resulted in a stronger core team thanks to cross-training and good communication.

Jennifer Farewell was just promoted to farrowing department head in the spring, and Leann transitioned to the breeding department head, rounding out a strong leadership team.

Don Hunt, the farm’s supervisor, says their key to success is their level of care and detail, no matter their role. “They’ll never cut corners and stay consistent daily in how they approach the farm.”

Rhonda, who has been the manager at the farm since 2011, says she’s proud of her team's effort to care for the animals and make changes for the better, all while covering a few open positions throughout the year.

“We’ve had some early start times, but the hard work is paying off,” said Rhonda. “We have a strong core team and a good set of people here, and the level of care we have for the animals and each other makes us successful. Everyone is dedicated and knows great pig care. I’m proud of our performance, and we’re hoping to keep the momentum going.”

Rhonda says Don is a great supervisor and has worked to help fill in. “He helps wean, wash hallways and does whatever it takes to get the chores done. He works alongside us and helps us catch up and get ahead.”

Jennifer is taking charge of refining sow conditioning through better scoring and individualized feeding. The farm has seen an improved farrowing rate thanks to early identification of problems and providing the proper, timely treatment.

Jennifer says she gets up every morning motivated to provide excellent animal care. “We’re here to give these animals the best life possible, and we’re very committed to that idea.”

Jennifer explains that translates to ensuring they have everything set up right for the animals—day one care for the piglets, monitoring their development, observing their behavior, providing treatments, and then they move and handle the pigs.”

Rhonda says the communication between her department heads is excellent, which leads to better animal care. “When Leann walks the pregnant sows over to farrowing, she tells Jennifer what’s going on with each sow in detail so Leann can take over monitoring and care.”

Doug has worked at the farm for four years. “I didn’t have a farming background and was uncertain if this was the right route for me. I enjoy working with animals and have turned a part-time job into a full-time career.

While visiting with this group, Joshua—who has four children ages 8, 11, 13 and 14—says he and Jennifer had a great time seeing everyone at the Iowa State Fair this year. “We love coming to the fair, seeing so many of the Iowa Select Farms team and enjoying quality family time together.”

Cindy, who’s a newer member of the Popcorn team, says she never had a livestock background either but loves it at the farm and feels her work to care for the animals is meaningful and rewarding.

Alejandro and Erik are the two newest to the farm, saying that they enjoy the positive working environment and friendly coworkers. They appreciate the warm welcome they received when they made the move to Nebraska and love the stability of working for Iowa Select Farms, in terms of the benefits, programs, training and compensation.

With a full team as positive and motivated as the group at Popcorn, we’re sure to be seeing them in the top SelectPride rankings several times again. Keep up the great work!