When I arose at 6 am this morning the outside temperature at my house was -12F. With an office in my basement, I don’t have to go outside and ‘brave’ the cold today. However, all of those people responsible for daily pig care are out and about this morning making sure our pigs need are being met.
Last week I did a series of producer meetings (including an all day ventilation workshop). Once again I was reminded that the next generation of people taking care of pigs and making management decisions didn’t necessarily come to their current position with a lifetime of experience in animal agriculture, much less working in pig production facilities.
The young people involved in pork production have an enthusiasm for this career that is refreshing. They see opportunities at every corner and are excited about their role in producing a safe and wholesome meat animal protein source for a growing world need.
The biggest challenge for many of them is that they don’t know what they don’t know. In too many instances those of involved in pork production for our lifetime are making assumptions about what they have for experiences and learning when we should instead by working with them to improve their skills and experiences so they can take production to the next level of animal care and performance.
I’ve found growers and employees in production systems and producers who tend to the daily care of their own pigs highly appreciative of educational efforts that give them one or two helpful items that make their life easier or that explains the whys of production management. Even better is when they talk with me at an event 1-2 years later and remind me of the impact of this learning as they applied it in their production facility.
If you are a pork producer, what have you done to encourage on-going learning by your employees or contract growers? If you are a contract grower, have you taken advantage of the attempts by your contractor to make you a better grower?