Quality barn staff key to good results

Workers who don’t care about what they are doing destroy productivity, says hog operation owner

The best genetics and methods are wasted if workers in a hog barn aren’t right for the job.


That’s the view of a Quebec hog barn operator who is getting 30 pigs per sow per year.


“If he’s not good, change the guy,” said Julie Menard of F. Menard, which operates highly productive hog operations.


“Some of the people will never catch what is a sow in heat.”


Menard said diligent, committed workers who are good at what they do are key to getting results.


“You must have good pig genetics. No good genetics, no good numbers,” Menard said.


“But the genetics will not do it by itself.”


Simply combining genetics with good practices won’t succeed either if the people applying the practices don’t do it well.


“It’s how the staff take the techniques you give to them and they apply it,” said Menard. 


“If you don’t apply it every day and the people are not just having that target in their heads, they will never attain it.”


Menard said the best people in the barn should be assigned to the gilts because making a gilt healthy and productive for its first parity is the key to making it productive and healthy for life. The gilt is much more likely to be poor for life if it is handled poorly at the beginning.


“People not doing a good job with their gilts are not able to achieve that 30 (target),” said Menard.


Good workers don’t necessarily come from farm backgrounds, Menard added. Being a good hog barn worker is more about having the right personality type and characteristics.


“Many people don’t know anything about agriculture, but if you teach them, if you raise them, if you educate them, you can have very good people,” said Menard.


However, she said barn operators need to get rid of workers who don’t care about what they’re doing because they destroy productivity.


“I’m really a believer that if you don’t want to perform, go do something else. We don’t need to keep you,” said Menard.


As well, people shouldn’t be left in key positions if they aren’t getting good results.


“A bad breeding manager? Change it. You can see your results (begin from a) very low (level). Change that guy. It’ll go up right away.”