Congratulations to Allie, Gildardo, Juan, Charles, Fernando, Diego, Tracey, Kortland, Ana, Jesus, Luis, Abigail and Ilmer at Stumme S003 for being named our Most Improved Sow Farm!
For the farm’s manager, Allie, it seems like just yesterday that they broke with PRRS. “It was week 45 of 2019,” she said. “I remember it very well because I was working that weekend. We had already been working every other weekend for two months due to being short-staffed and then bam—we broke. It was truly devastating.”
The weeks that followed consisted of a lot of hard work and long days. “We worked every other weekend for five months, during which we received four new employees and eased them into the work flow,” she said. “The most challenging part was that only five of us had ever seen PRRS before, so not only did it take a physical toll on us, but it was also very emotional. We care so much about these animals and a certain point, you just felt helpless.”
During those five months, the farm’s supervisor, Chris, and veterinarian, Lynn, really focused with them on biosecurity protocols. “What I loved, and continue to enjoy, about my visits to Sow 3 is that everyone is always eager to ask questions,” said Lynn. “No matter how busy they were or how much they had going on, they took the time to have thoughtful conversations that helped them get better. You could tell they really wanted to succeed.”
Every week, the farm would submit a biosecurity training log to Chris on areas of discussion or improvement. “From leaving Tyveks in a transition room to properly spacing totes after the supplies are brought in, Allie and the crew really started focusing on the details,” said Chris. “Based on their weekly reports, you could tell that the team was competitive and wanted to get better.”
Fast forward to January and Chris asked managers to pick a slogan for their farm, although he already had one in mind for Sow 3. “Back in Black,” Allie recalled. “It was because our numbers were running in the red, but I gave Chris a hard time because it’s what the Hawkeyes come out to and I’m a huge Iowa State fan.”
That same month, Allie had a challenge of her own—she wanted everyone to pick a goal for themselves and also for the farm. Tracey, the farm’s farrowing department head, recalls wanting to place in the top ten, but settling on most improved. “I have to admit, when we set that goal, I thought we might hit it by the fourth quarter, third if we were lucky, but definitely not the second,” said Tracey. “It comes down to having a really great team that understands what needs to be done.”
The following months consisted of, believe it or not, lots of donuts and pizza. It was Allie’s attempt at celebrating the little accomplishments, making her crew feel better and appreciated for all of their hard work. “I knew they had so much potential, it was just a matter of getting there and getting them to believe in their accomplishments and work,” she said.
By the end of April, the farm was back to hitting their total born, wean pig and PCP targets. From there, the rest was history. When they found out they were the most improved farm, they thought it was just amongst the 1-9, 39 farm group. When they realized it was amongst all of the sow farms, they were ecstatic.
“I know we have only improved to the middle of the pack, but man, it sure feels nice to see all the improvements we have made as a team, in individual departments and individual employee success,” said Allie. “I’m honored to have such determined employees that truly care for their sows and production of pork. I have enjoyed working for them and helping deliver tools or advice to succeed. They truly are one of a kind and I’m so grateful for this team.”