Yale Earns SelectPride Most Improved Sow Farm

posted on Saturday, January 21, 2023

Yale team
“You must make changes to see if it results in a positive outcome. Otherwise, you’re accepting what’s going on,” said Bill Bergquist, manager of Yale sow farm. “This most improved award proves that there’s always room to get better, and my team holds itself to that standard.”

Congratulations to Bill, Roberto, Pepe, Daniel, Mel, Kort, Maria, Francis, Perla, Miriam, Ian and Ilmer on their recent SelectPride most improved sow farm award.

“The amount of respect and dedication my team has to their job and this crew is impressive,” said Bill. “We always believe in getting work done correctly, together.”
Chris Nydegger, the farm’s supervisor, recognizes this about Yale.

“The great thing about Bill and the Yale team is that they’re committed to taking a step back and looking at results with an open mind as a team,” said Chris. “They are willing to give great effort in making changes that create positive results.”

Working together is a common theme among the Yale team. Speaking with Ilmer, Miriam and Daniel separately, they all had the same thing to say—this group works incredibly well together.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in breeding or farrowing. Our team’s mantra is that we help each other with tasks that need to get done,” said Ilmer.

Even with the duties of each department differing, Bill says he’s worked hard to allow everyone to cross-train in breeding and farrowing. This growth has made a positive impact, and members of the farm are taking notice.

“Our communication has improved since we began cross-training,” said Roberto.
Chris added that the team had responded incredibly well to new procedures and training.

“The development of the employees at Yale set a precedent of constantly working on getting better,” said Chris. “They are not afraid of change and are committed to being on board with it.”

Bill attributes the communication improvements to his addition of a morning and lunch meeting.

“Every morning, we sit down as a team and figure out how we want to start the day. We discovered that wasn’t enough, though,” said Bill. “We added a meeting over lunch to discuss what we need to complete and how we will work together to get it done. We’ve been doing this for quite some time now and it’s made a difference.”

“The collaboration and flexibility on what changes are feasible to them create a good discussion among this team,” said Chris. “It gets the right pieces in place to drive for better results.”

The Yale team has made many changes over the years to explore what works best for them. Ian, a heat check and artificial insemination specialist in the breeding department, has had experience with change in his four years here.

“I started in the breeding department and knew I enjoyed it but was looking to learn more,” said Ian. “Bill let me move to the farrowing department to learn the other side. I realized that I liked the breeding department more because I enjoy being at the beginning of the process, but I am glad I can help in farrowing where I can.”

Another change the farm has recently implemented is two-person choring. This practice is to improve animal livability by getting more eyes on pigs, but also to work in teams more. So far, this practice has improved the farm’s production results.

Alex Umbaugh, sow retention specialist for Iowa Select Farms, has thoroughly enjoyed working with the Yale team on improving their livability.

“Bill and his team have done a nice job creating a positive work culture open to making positive changes,” said Alex. “In the short time they’ve been utilizing the two-person choring method, we have already noticed an improvement in animal health in breeding and farrowing.”

Perla, the farm’s assistant farrowing department head, loves the teamwork atmosphere of this group and its ability to work with others, such as Chris and Alex.

“In my four years here, I’ve seen us get better as a group,” said Perla. “I especially appreciate working with Maria and Francis in Day 1 care as that’s their specialty.”

“Giving these piglets the best possible start to life is what it’s all about,” said Maria. “Francis and I are always focused on our animal care practices and keeping these piglets warm and healthy and ensuring the sows are comfortable too.”

Pepe, farrowing department head at Yale, says he’s very proud of his department and the work they put in.

“We work hard to maintain and improve our production numbers,” said Pepe. “It is easier when you have a motivated group willing to learn and make changes that will help us get better.”

As for this team, there’s nothing in their way to success. Their positive outlook will continue to move them in the right direction.

“No matter what we have going on, our commitment to great animal care won’t change,” said Bill. “We look forward to getting better, and I couldn’t be prouder of this entire team.”