Today’s modern pig farmers have to balance and put focus on countless areas of impact in order to maximize success. In the newly weaned and growing pigs, herd health, feeding strategies, marketing, and risk management are just the beginning to a long list of important details. One additional area of focus that cannot be forgotten is quality animal husbandry, but this comes with large challenges. How do you train people in animal husbandry? How do you find passionate animal caretakers for the family farm?
Quality animal care has always been a focus for PIPESTONE and pig farmers, and today’s recent offering, FarmTeam, puts quality animal husbandry at the forefront. Through International recruiting via the TN-VISA program, FarmTeam recruits, trains, and deploys hard-working and motivated employees on the family farms that are desiring to maintain the quality animal husbandry that their family has long held or are looking to improve the focus on the individual pig. FarmTeam opens the door to being able to place employees that are supported by the traditional PIPESTONE benefits including 401k, paid-time-off, and health insurance. This brings value to the farmer by caring for the employee beyond what a traditional W-2 wage is capable of.
Today’s FarmTeam employees are graduates with a degree in agriculture from Mexico. Their experiences and education in Mexico aid in their PIPESTONE training that can be in general pig care or tailored to nursery production or grow-finish production based on the area of focus that they will be a part of on the farm. The learning doesn’t stop once FarmTeam members have completed their training in the training pod, but continues and even intensifies once they are placed on the client’s farm.
Travis Dudley is a Grow Finish Supervisor in the Independence, Iowa area and oversees production for a group of growers in his local area with 100% of the day-to-day production and pig care being provided by FarmTeam. “FarmTeam employees push the envelope on animal care and husbandry because they are prepared to work every day with a focus on the pig. They are not distracted by planting beans or combining corn,” says Dudley. “Success comes from holding the same high standards every single day.”
Today, Dudley measures success through a review of the performance metrics that are an output from FarmStats. Weekly evaluation of mortality in every group and review of closeout performance allows him the visibility to where the team is being successful and where additional focus needs to be provided. Dudley explained that recent focus on CV% (Coefficient of Variation) in marketing has been reduced by 2% points where the FarmTeam employees are managing the production. He went on to describe how this reduction in CV has a value of over $3 per pig.
Each FarmTeam success story is centered around the enfolding of the FarmTeam member into the operation. During a recent visit to a producer’s farm in Southwest Minnesota, this was evermore evident. The improvement in performance on this farm is continually being documented through the reduction in nursery mortality. But, through my continued conversation, the farmer explained that the relationship with the FarmTeam employees is also a constant effort. “It doesn’t just happen, you have to work at it.” In many instances the bi-lingual support of PIPESTONE human resources can be very helpful. In other situations, it is the farmer themselves that creates the successful environment by assisting with housing for the employees and creating a welcoming workplace.
Regardless of the size of pig operation that you are responsible for, animal care is critical to the success. As you are reviewing the performance of your farm and making decisions on where to focus for the coming years, don’t underestimate the importance of focused animal care and the long-term value that this can bring to your operation.
Article by: Dan Hanson Director of FarmTeam, Pipestone Business