Two Huge Investment Jobs: The Military and Livestock Farming
“When you talk about two jobs that require a huge investment, the military and livestock farming definitely come to mind,” said Iowa Select Farms contractor and Army Veteran, Cody Shear. “Both come with a lot of responsibility, 365 days a year.”
Growing up in the small town of Dumont, Cody always knew his future career would somehow be tied to agriculture.
“My Grandpa, Dad and uncles ran the elevator in Bristow along with a trucking business,” he said. “Farming was definitely the big industry that fueled our small town.”
Before his roots settled too deep, Cody knew he had to fulfill an innate desire to serve his country. After graduating from Hampton-Dumont High School, Cody joined the Army and shortly thereafter found himself in Fort Benning, Georgia, for basic training. Fast forward four years and Cody had moved twice and been on four deployments to Afghanistan.
“I learned a lot in those four years,” said Cody. “From selfless service and following through with your commitments, the military taught me a lot about succeeding in any career and life.”
Upon returning home, Cody worked for a local cooperative as a custom applicator. To earn additional income on the side, he started taking care of two Iowa Select Farms finishing farms. After six months, he was hooked.
“I had never been around livestock before but now I’m all in,” he laughed. “I love the freedom to make my own schedule, which is great in the spring and fall because it allows me to help local farmers in the field. Of course there are long, hard days, but it’s all worth it when you get a healthy group of pigs out the door.”
In his role as a contractor, Cody is responsible for the daily care of pigs at four wean-to-finish farms near Dumont, along with general site upkeep and maintenance. He credits his success to the training and support he received in his first six months.
“There has definitely been a huge learning curve,” he said. “But I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with Craig and finishing supervisors. My friend Joe Brown also helped me daily and on the weekends. It was reassuring to know I was never truly alone.”
As a production well-being caretaker trainer, Craig Schrage spends his time working with new contractors like Cody for four to six weeks. Training focuses on placing and sorting new pigs, understanding daily care, identifying and treating sick animals, paperwork and record-keeping.
“From the moment we met, Cody was very interested in learning how to do things the right way,” said Craig. “He was willing to listen, learn and work hard. You could tell he took this very seriously and wanted to make sure he knew how to provide the best possible care for his pigs.”
From providing timely treatments to setting up pens, adjusting barn temperatures and managing a tight schedule, Cody has learned that the smallest changes can make the biggest differences in pig health. His supervisors have taken note at how fast he’s caught on.
“Cody has been a very quick learner and excels at pig care,” said finishing supervisor, Derek Steere. “He does especially well with the younger, weaned pigs. He takes the time to make sure everything is taken care of. Nothing gets overlooked.”
Now 18 months in with Iowa Select Farms, Cody isn’t looking back.
“It’s awesome to work for a company that supports the military and Veterans like me so much,” he said. “I’m not sure what the future has in store, but I think are hogs are always going to be a part of what I do.”