Smyrna Sow 38 Wins Q3 Most Improved Sow Farm
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Since welcoming their first load of bred gilts last October, the team at Smyrna Sow 38 has come a long way. In fact, the farm was recently recognized as the Q3 Most Improved Sow Farm after jumping 17 spots from 36th place to 19th place in final quarterly rankings.
According to farm manager, Adam Swalla, there weren’t any specific changes that contributed to the farm’s recent success.
“To be quite honest, the main thing that changed was that things stopped changing,” he explained. “We stopped getting new animals, were able to setup barn flows and get into a routine. We feel like we’re finally starting to find our groove.”
One year ago, Adam, breeding department head, Shaun Walkup and farrowing department head, Megan Foster, along with their teams, were cutting the ribbon at the farm’s grand opening. Less than a week later, the farm started getting gilts and shortly thereafter, animals were farrowing.
“It’s been a pretty hectic year,” laughed Megan. “It’s been hard to establish a routine, but now that we’ve got all of our animals in and are improving our parity structure, we’ve been able to take a step back, slow down and focus on the details—the things that will take our farm from good and turn it into great.”
In addition to Adam, Shaun and Megan, the farm team consists of assistant breeding department head, Shay Dutton, newborn pig specialist, Morgan Kurimski and animal caretakers Daniel Borraz, Micheel Cervantes, Jose Garcia, Susana Gutierrez, Reyna Ortiz and Martin Sanchez, Carissa Cobb, Bridgette Cox, Tyler Cribb, Kaden Gray, Jacob Larrington and Teresa Pollock.
The farm team was initially formed by bringing in employees from four nearby sow farms.
According to the farm’s supervisor, Don Hunt, the team at 38 gets along great, works hard and is efficient. Their success is attributed to how well the team gets along, how much they help each other out throughout the day and Adam always seeing the good in people and processes.
“We’ve got a great team,” said Shay, who has been at Smyrna since startup. “Unless you come in when we are breeding or heat checking, you wouldn’t know who was a breeder and who was a farrower. Everyone works together and we communicate a lot between the two departments.”
On top of effective communication, Adam says his team does a great job of staying busy.
“You’re never going to walk into the farm and see employees standing around,” he said. “Sure, we like to have fun and talk throughout the day, but we also know how to get the job done. Everyone does a great job moving from one thing to the next with minimal direction.”
Production at Smyrna is also starting to find a rhythm. To date, the farm’s PSY is 29.71, PCP has consistently been above 90% and last quarter the farm weaned 57,614 pigs—4,379 more than their target.
“We’re starting to see a lot of P2s and P3s, which is helping a lot,” explained Shaun. “Not only are we adjusting, but the animals are, too. We’re a pretty competitive bunch and feel good about what 2020 has in store. We want to be in the Top 10 for sure.”
According to Don, Sow 38 continues to progress and is inching their way to the upper echelon of farms, building upon consistent results and placing in the top 10 weekly SelectPride rankings.
“Between the last two quarters the farm decreased sow mortality by 4%, increased their farrowing rate by 3.5% an increased born alive by almost half a pig to 14,” explained Don. “Adam and his crew are always up for a challenge, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the top ten sometime soon. There’s a lot of positive energy at this farm and it’s exciting to see them improve quarter-to-quarter.”
Congratulations on your Q3 win, Smyrna! We’re proud of how far you come and can’t wait to see what you’re capable of in the future.