When it comes to health, we are all in this together
“I have never met anyone in over 20 years in this industry with more passion for raising pigs or who is more supportive of her team,” said Ron, former senior finishing supervisor in reference to Barb, a nursery supervisor located near Riceville, Iowa. “She strives to do what's right for her pigs every day and she never gives up even on the toughest groups.”
Barb, who started out 12 years ago as a nursery technician at N24 and then moved over to manager N23, was promoted at the end of 2015 to her current supervisor role, now overseeing seven 4,800 mini-nurseries and two 10,000 head nurseries. Her territory is located around Riceville and extends throughout Howard and Mitchell County in northern Iowa.
Taking on a supervisory role is oftentimes a difficult transition, especially when a promotion moves you away from pig care and more to supporting the people on the front lines, but for Barb she’s not only enjoying the challenge but succeeding—Barb and her team have earned a top ten spot in SelectPride for Q1 of this year.
“I’m lucky to have a tremendous team, and getting out to do site visits and walking the barns with them is something I really enjoy doing,” said Barb. “I’ve found that I really take pride in seeing people succeed, and if I play a role in that, then that makes me really happy.”
Supervisors walk every barn in their territory at the minimum of four times in the first six weeks of placement, and Barb makes it a point to achieve a site visit weekly or more. “We all keep our focus on the basics of pig care—feed, air, water, keeping the pens as warm and dry as possible, which can be difficult depending on weather,” said Barb. “We also stay aggressive on diagnosing diseases through posting and working our vet, Katie, and stay on top of treatments.”
Nursery care is very much focused on easing that transition from mother’s milk to feed, and a lot is changing for those pigs in a short amount of time. New food, new barn, new pen mates, drinking from a water trough, and adapting to a whole new environment can be challenging. “It’s our job to make this go smoothly for them and keep them healthy,” said Barb.
Strategies for early pig care start with daily observation of each animal and then pulling and treating animals that need extra care. Gruel feeding, mat feeding and having the right temperature, humidity and air flow inside the barn are all critical during the nursery phase.
“If we can get them through the first two weeks and then get them out the door healthy, they have a great chance in the finisher,” said Barb. “I’m really appreciative of Katie, Ron and Cindy, and am fortunate to have really great managers and crews at the farms to help us through every step.”
Katie, the staff veterinarian, Ron and Cindy, the St. Ansgar warehouse manager are just a few of the people who support our finishing supervisors and farm managers. “When it comes to health, we are all in this together,” said Barb. “We have a lot of eyes on the pigs and work together to make sure we are doing everything we can for them.”
“Barb’s always thinking outside the box on what she can do better,” said Ron. “The great challenge in supervising Barb is going through one of her sites and being able to find something you'd do differently.” #billionpounds