Stumme team earns safety award status seven quarters in a row

posted on Monday, January 11, 2016

A big kudos is in order for the Stumme (Sow 3) team for earning safety award status for seven consecutive quarters in a row!

Stumme, a 4,500 head sow farm located near Blairsburg, Iowa, has 13 total employees all responsible for safety success and today we sat down with the farms two department heads, Bill and Tracey, to hear their perspective on the team’s accomplishment.

“It starts right when we walk in the door,” said Bill, the breeding department head. Bill is referring to their daily morning meeting where every employee on the farm discusses the plan for the day and even week ahead. “When we know the plan we can get our rooms and equipment prepared so we are not rushing and more apt to have an accident.”

Tracey, the farrowing department head, said everyone at the farm looks out for each other’s back especially in those “high risk” areas like moving animals, especially gilts. “Take your time, carry a panel and always ask a co-worker to help with movements,” she advises.

Bill echoed that message by adding that Rick, the sow farm manager, is a stickler on the protocol of moving less than six sows at once. “If he counts seven sows he lets us know we messed up,” said Bill, who said sows can have a tendency to stop walking forward and even turn around, which can be difficult for the caretaker to get them headed back in the right direction. “If they get plugged up, the best thing to do is wait it out,” said Bill. “Someone will eventually come along and help you from the other side of the hallway or barn.”

“We also don’t yell, shout or raise our voices, ever,” adds Tracey. “When moving the animals we make a low hissing sound that they respond well to and doesn’t get them excited or agitated.”

According to Bill, once you start to work with animals you begin to understand and recognize their behavior and flight zone, he said in reference to the distance around a sow in which it is comfortable letting a person get within before it moves away. When moving pigs it is best to work at the outer edge of this flight zone, “ninety percent of the time when they see you in their flight zone they will move, just remember they can’t see directly behind themselves,” adds Bill.

In the farrowing rooms, Tracey said she and her co-workers leave notes for each other on the farrowing stall if a sow is particularly cantankerous, referring to a small percentage of sows who become aggressive after farrowing. We’ll give them extra care, and approach them quietly and with extra caution, said Tracy.
Both Tracy and Bill said that keeping on top of maintenance issues is also key. “We keep a running list of items that need repaired, so when our maintenance tech comes we are organized and don’t forget or over look anything that could be safety risk or a potential problem in the future,” said Bill.

“I’m really proud of my department heads and really proud of this team we’ve built,” said Rick., the farm's manager “They deserve all of the credit, and we are looking to have good year at Sow 3. We’re pushing for more great safety results along with a top ten finish in Select Pride,” the weekly, quarterly and annual ranking of sow farms based on production performance. “We’re off to a good start, and we have a great team.” ‪#‎billionpounds‬

P.S. All Q4 and 2015 safety winners will be announced at the January 26th Production Management Meeting!