Sow Farm Manager Janea works her way up the leadership ladder

posted on Thursday, January 28, 2016

A native of Murray, Janea recognized early on the tremendous opportunities agriculture and food production have right here in Iowa. While pursuing a degree in ag studies from Iowa State University, Janea took an internship with Iowa Select Farms in the summer of 2012 and worked at Clarke Sow Farm (Sow 20) to gain experience in swine breeding, reproduction and farrowing. She continued to work part-time on weekends and during the holidays at Clarke and then Thayer Sow Farm (Sow 29) until graduation, when she applied for a full-time position in hopes to join the Production Leadership Program (PLP) and work her way up to becoming a sow farm manager.

In January 2014 with her degree in-hand, Janea joined Iowa Select Farms full-time and started out her PLP development plan at Parker Sow Farm (Sow 16) where she helped the team with a rolling depop—short for depopulation and repopulation, a strategy producers use to eradicate a disease, such as PRRS. It was there she learned all of the aspects of the breeding side of the farm—heat detection, artificial insemination, pregnancy checking, body condition scoring and the goals and metrics assigned to each of these, all put in place to ensure the sows are healthy and well-cared for.

When the Holstein Sow Farm (Sow 31) was welcomed to the system later that same year, Janea said yes to the opportunity to join the Breeding Project Team, a team of 15 breeding specialists assembled to care for and breed the 6,000 gilts needed to populate the new farm. This meant a move to north central Iowa paired with learning the importance of teamwork, being adaptable and working together towards a common goal.

After the breeding project was completed, Janea moved once again to take on a temporary farrowing project utilizing the then-empty space in the new Holstein Sow Farm, giving her a crash course in farrowing, day one care and colostrum management. It was an area she enjoyed and excelled in, so with the “Ponderosa” sows farrowed and piglets weaned, Janea earned the role of farrowing manager on newly-formed Holstein Sow Farm leadership team. After just one year the farm’s manager position opened up and Janea was promoted, taking on the leadership of the farm and the 12-person crew.

During her time as farrowing department head, Janea said her manager Chad taught her some of her most important lessons on accountability and “owning” farrowing. “He pushed me to be accountable for the department, set goals and identify ways to improve,” said Janea.

Janea says the credit for her growth and development goes to her team and her trainers, along with her willingness to try new things, take on tough challenges and accept training, coaching and feedback. Not to mention being mentored by some of the best along the way—Doug, the farm manager at Clarke (who now manages Parker, a top SelectPride farm), Misty, the breeding manager at Parker (who now is the farrowing manager at that same farm), Michael, the manager at 16 (who now managers Wright Sow Farm/Sow 25), Bert, the manager at Thayer Sow Farm (our multiplication farm), Dan, the senior sow supervisor for the north central and northern Iowa sow farms and the members of the Breeding Project Team all helped Janea develop her skills and leadership abilities.

She currently works with a peer mentor—Kaci, the farm manager at Thorsen Sow Farm (Sow 24)—comparing notes daily via email and then talking on the phone once a week. “So many people along the way have helped me develop and get better,” said Janea. "I am so thankful for their training and advice and the fact that every day I learn something new.” ‪#‎billionpounds‬