Briana Ferguson begins every morning with a big cup of coffee and a whole lot of pigs to care for. Briana starts walking through the barn and making a mental list of what needs to be accomplished for the day.
Briana grew up in small town on a hobby farm near Kerkhoven, MN. Growing up with sheep and cattle, and participating in 4-H at a young age developed Briana’s passion for animals.
After graduating high school, she packed up her bags and moved to Fargo, ND, where she attended North Dakota State University and obtained her Bachelors of Science degree in Animal Science. “It’s a science-based program that focuses on production and management of livestock, including food animal nutrition, reproduction, genetics, and growth,” explained Briana.
No doubt this gave Briana a cutting edge when she showed up to the Pipestone Management’s booth at NDSU’s career fair. “I was just about to finish my degree, and wanted to use my education in a hands-on job,” said Briana, “so I applied for a Manager-In-Training (MIT) position at Pipestone Management.”
Briana started working in gestation at Bluestem near Mitchell, SD, and only a year later, she was promoted to the Farrowing lead. Feeding, processing, and fostering piglets are a few of the duties she oversees with her farrowing technicians. On an average day at, there are 200-300 piglets born in her barn, and her number one job is to make sure every sow and piglet’s needs are attended to.
Briana didn’t have a background in swine, but there is no doubt she demonstrates a passion for her work. “I enjoy being in the barn and working with the livestock. Working in an office staring at numbers all day is just not appealing to me,” says Briana. She takes pride in producing a high quality pig for the shareholder, and making sure the pigs are healthy and maintaining good weight gain.
Recently, Briana joined Pipestone’s mentor group committee. The main goal of the committee is to help new employees feel comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. Briana helps implement tools, such as a “pig term” glossary, to help teach employees about life in a pig barn. “It can be difficult to work in an industry the main stream knows so little about,” confessed Briana. “People around here understand, but when I visit my friends in metro areas, it’s hard for them to wrap their heads around what I do for a living.”
However, this lack of understanding doesn’t seem to be creating a barrier between Briana and her long term career goals. She has been looking into Master’s programs focusing on either animal reproduction or genetics. “I want to continue my education in animal science and see how I can help the industry improve.”
After tending to thousands of baby pigs and their mama’s, Briana goes home satisfied with a hard day’s work. If you or someone you know would be interested in applying for Pipestone Management’s Manager in Training program, contact Human Resources at 507.825.7939.