“When you’ve been here as long as I have, it’s hard to not feel like the pigs are your own,” said Chad Bolinger, Manager of Stalker 2 and an Iowa Select Farms employee for 17 years. “Actually, I think that’s what makes us do so well. We care for these pigs as if we own them, so of course we want them to succeed. We take a lot of pride is producing the absolute best gilt.”
And Chad’s passion and dedication shows, which is why he has repeatedly earned the title of top gilt development unit for Iowa Select Farms. Chad and his technician, Dave, hit a 14.1 total born and 12.9 born alive in 2016—above the system-wide GDU goal of 13.4 total born and 12 born alive. Stalker 2 gilts flow just down the road to Sow 16, also the top sow farm for 2016.
To round out the list of the top five GDU for 2016, a congratulations goes out to Roy Alden, Matt Swank, Virgil Bolinger and Doug Gilmore on a tremendous year. These five farm managers—and their technicians—landed in the top five spots for 2016 Overall GDU SelectPride. With over 80 years of combined experience, these five guys have been managing Stalker 2 (Chad), Jensen (Roy), Conway (Matt), Huls (Virgil) and Cyclone (Doug), all providing care to gilts that will in turn become our future sows.
“Not only are they competitive, but the combined years of experience amongst this group of guys is pretty remarkable,” said Jeremiah Hall, Senior GDU Supervisor. “Most of them have been here since day one, and these are their barns, you can tell by their ownership and pride. They know what they’re doing and help each other out.”
Jeremiah also said the competition was heated. “These five farm managers had a really close race in 2016, all pushing hard to make their goals,” said Jeremiah. “And this year we have several farms that are working hard and making significant improvements—not only the teams at Jensen, Conway, Huls and Cyclone but also other GDUs in the system. They’ll be giving Chad and Dave a run for their money this year.”
Gilt development units, otherwise referred to as a GDU, are measured on a variety of factors, like total born, born alive and HNS. “We want over 95% of the gilts bred on their second heat detection (heat, no service),” explains Tysen Abell, GDU Supervisor. Gilts that respond to boar exposure at an early age tend to remain in production longer than gilts that respond at a later age. Stimulating gilts to cycle and breed on the second or third estrus is a well-established practice.
GDU managers are also scored how the gilts perform at the sow farm. This year, the goals for our GDU farms of course revolve around having large and healthy litters at their sow farms—13.4 total born and 12 born alive, and goals around low mortality (<4 parity zero). GDU farms are also scored and ranked based on the outcomes of their unannounced production well-being and biosecurity audits.
“Doug and Allen at Cyclone GDU had the highest PWB score with a 96%, and most of the others were right at target or just below,” said Jeremiah. Production Well-Being assessments are unannounced and take a comprehensive look the overall farm and care of the animals. Production Well-Being Specialist assess everything from air, feed, water and daily observation to the state of preventative maintenance, documentation and treatment records.
When it comes to hitting these goals, even the best manager can’t do it alone. “My technician, Dennis, has just as much experience as I do,” said Virgil Bolinger, who took four place at Huls GDU. “When you’re able to rely on someone as much as I rely on him, there’s just nothing better. It makes all the difference.”
“Everyone plays an equally important role in the success of the farm,” said Tysen. “One word I’ve never heard from these guys is ‘no.’ They always step up to do the job, no matter how difficult or time consuming that job may be.”
“Throughout all these years, the one thing that has never changed is the commitment this group has to seeing their barns succeed,” added Tysen. The ownership and pride they have is astounding, it’s something that you instantly feel when you go into their barns.” #billionplus
2016 Overall Gilt Development Unit Farms
1st place: Chad Bolinger and Dave Stringham, Stalker 2 G016
2nd place: Roy Alden and Todd Franke, Jensen G125
3rd place: Matt Swank, Rodney and Carol Bollinger, Conway G540
4th place: Virgil Bolinger and Dennis Nelson, Huls G040
5th place: Doug Gilmore and Allen Casady, Cyclone G562