Striving for Pig Production Excellence

25 October 2012, at 12:59pm

GLOBAL - Rick Boomgaarden is a strong believer in the importance of individual pig care and how it affects whole-herd productivity. His focus on optimum animal care is created by applying the basics to every pig while remaining committed to the smallest details.

Mr Boomgaarden was honored as one of five winners in the Honouring Pork Caregivers programme, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health. As production supervisor for CHAMP, LLC in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he oversees five sow farms totaling 14,000 sows, a gilt developer and a nursery complex.

Nearly 50 pork professionals from production systems across the United States were nominated for the program, which was initiated this year to recognize individuals who consistently put forth the extra effort to exceed expectations. Winners received an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City and a $1,000 cash prize.

"We are pleased to recognise the Honoring Pork Caregivers winners for their vigilant pig care and their dedication to making positive improvements to on-farm practices," says Benjamin Church, senior marketing communications manager, Pfizer Animal Health, sponsor of the Honouring Pork Caregivers programme.

"I look for ways we can improve," says Mr Boomgaarden. He strives for 100 per cent excellence in management through positive reinforcement, a skill he learned in his previous career as a teacher and counselor. His efforts to motivate the entire staff include animal-care committees made up of employees at each location. Checklists are used in every area and internal audits are conducted on the farms.

Mr Boomgaarden knows the importance of the first two days of a pig's life and emphasizes that fact with his staff. "Our best numbers are in the area of pre-wean mortality. Managers and employees are organized and focused on the animals' needs," he says.

"The farms Rick manages are a model of excellent animal care, welfare and productivity and should be a model for the entire industry," says Donald L. Davidson, DVM, MS, director of production operations for PFFJ, LLC, which includes CHAMP, LLC. "Rick's focus is to exceed normally accepted production practices and standards."

"Rick and the other Honouring Pork Caregivers award winners are helping ensure a high standard of herd health management for their respective operations," adds Mr Church, "and they provide a benchmark for the rest of the industry to achieve."