“Receiving this award is something I will carry with me for my whole life,” said Elzette, the health services assistant for Iowa Select Farms. “It was completely unexpected but I’m so honored.”
Elzette is referring to her well-deserved Select Pride Partner award in the first quarter of 2021. The Partner award recognizes individuals or teams who provide exemplary service to the farms.
She holds a unique position within Iowa Select Farms—she’s the “go to” person for each farm’s health status. Her critical communications pipe through emails and the company intranet daily if not hourly.
“Elzette does an excellent job of managing the health status within the system and is a critical part to protecting the health at our farms,” said Pete, director of health services for Iowa Select Farms. “She is always keeping a close eye on diagnostics and making updates to the health system as quickly as possible. Elzette is the ultimate team player—willing to jump in and lend a helping hand and go above and beyond her routine duties, anytime day or night.”
With Iowa Select Farms’ strong commitment to animal care, good herd health plays a big role in the well-being of animals. Elzette works to track and measure the health status of all our farms by collecting information, populating spreadsheets, building Gantt charts, analyzing data, and identifying trends.
Then daily, she feeds it back to our veterinarians and production management team so they can make decisions such as where to place pigs (meaning, a specific barn in a specific “flow”) if the pigs need to be treated or receive additional care from the farm teams.
And Elzette’ s treatment records go back many, many years giving her the ability to give an accurate and detailed report of the health activity on any gene transfer center, multiplier, sow farm or GDU in our system, along with the nurseries and finishers where those pigs flowed.
A sequencing database—which records the precise order of nucleotides within a DNA molecule including the bases adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine in a strand of DNA—gives her team the entire medical history of each farm, something that’s oftentimes challenging to capture in humans. This allows the veterinarians to compare PRRSv and SIV strains across all farms in our system and make better decisions based on past actions with that specific strain.
With a background in production, Elzette brings a vast knowledge of pig care. Starting her career with a pork producer in 2006, Elzette understands the importance of staying up to date with the ever-changing swine industry.
She joined Iowa Select Farms in 2008 working at Erickson sow farm, then moving to Gieger sow farm, where she was a department head, followed by a jump to sow 112 where she continued as a department head. Elzette then left her sow farm to work at a gilt developer unit before ultimately joining the Health Services department in 2017.
This production experience has helped her in her current role because she is able to fully understand the on-farm perspective. “I tip my hat to our hardworking on farm employees for their hard work every day,” said Elzette. “I know how hard they work and understand their responsibilities. I want to help, and I know data is powerful when it comes to animal care.”
Cassandra, director of production well-being, couldn’t agree more. “With her background in production, Elzette understands the hard work behind the data and numbers she compiles and shares. She is an amazing asset to the health services team and the company. Elzette is the true definition of a team player.”
Max, the Sandy Hill sow farm manager and one of Elzette’s nominators, says she goes out of her way to be helpful to everyone.
“Her work is very important to every farm in our company, and she makes it simple for anyone to understand,” said Max. “I can send her data and she will evaluate it, break it down and make it simple for everyone to understand. Elzette is a problem solver and true friend of the farm.”
“Elzette is one of those employees who exemplifies every pillar we have—animal, people, environment and community care,” said Jen, director of communications. “She’s incredibly dependable and responsible and is always one of the first to pitch in and help out with community events and volunteer opportunities.”
One of those examples is the Deb and Jeff Hansen Little Free Pantry program. Elzette watches over the pantry recently built in Ellsworth. She regularly keeps it fully stocked with great snacks and goodies for children, including seasonal items such a school supplies, sunscreen, hats, and mittens, and much more.
“I feel so honored to work for Iowa Select Farms and I tell people about it all the time,” said Elzette. “I can’t thank the Hansen’s enough for their generosity in our communities. I love being a Little Free Pantry captain and I know people in the community really notice.”
Originally a native of South Africa, Elzette has found her home here in Iowa where she lives happily with her husband, Dan, who also works for Iowa Select Farms as the director of sow production. The have two children, Bailey and Kaden who are 11 and 12, respectively. Her brother, Gerhard, works for Iowa Select Farms as the manager of Kramer Sow Farm and is also the Little Free Pantry captain for the Webster City resource.
Thank you, Elzette, for your amazing contributions to Iowa Select Farms!