Do your draft homework to develop a strong pork team

Last night was an event that will forever change the lives of many young people, as 32 young men were chosen in the first round of the National Football League draft — a meat market of sorts as the league’s teams attempt to land the best collegiate talent to lead them to next year’s Super Bowl.

Scouts from NFL teams pore over the stats and character of all players to strap on the pads and helmets for the past few years. Players are scrutinized for every facet of their game to see if talent on Saturday afternoons can parlay into big paydays of Sunday afternoons (and Sunday evenings, and Monday evenings, and Thursday evenings) in the NFL.

While scouts are scouring the college ranks for the next “big thing” to help the professional team, coaches and general managers and other executives of the pro teams are evaluating what they currently have on roster. Are there weak spots? Will there be retirements? Who will be leaving to another team through free agency?

Now, let’s switch from talking pigskin to talking pig barns. What if your hog operation was able to participate in a draft to find the best new talent to help your operation? You may work in your operation every day, but do you really know the level of success that your team is reaching? Could your team do better? Where are the weak spots on your roster? What is the most important position on your team?

In January, Kent Bang of AgStar wrote about developing your swine production team, and taking a hard look at the overall performance of your operation.

Today’s technology can track the infinite details of hog and employee performance. Without proper recordkeeping, you have no way to truly know the strength or, maybe more important, the weak links.

Who is your top performer?

You know that efficiency and attention in the farrowing room are vital to your bottom line. Do you have the right people watching over the mother herd? What about all that comes before the females enter the farrowing room? Who’s overseeing the gestation unit? Who’s caring for the replacement gilts? Who’s doing your power washing?

Yes, who’s doing your power washing? That may be the lowest task on the hog farm totem pole, but it may also be the most important, especially if it’s not done well. If your power washing specialist drops the ball and there is a biosecurity breach, then what everyone else does on the farm may not matter. Don't overlook any task or performer on your team.

No, there isn’t a draft for young talent to work on hog operations, but there is employee turnover in barns so managers and owners should have a good grasp on the key components that make their operation tick. That way, when a personnel change is necessary, there will be a better idea of who can be moved around within the operation. Or, if they do have to hire from outside the operation, the profile of the next “big thing” will be at the ready and the hiring process can be a smooth transition.

Not every addition to your team will be a Peyton Manning who will have a long and successful career. But you want to also avoid a Johnny Manziel or a Ryan Luck, two high prospects who fizzled in the pro game.

College graduations are very close, and with it will be a number of animal science graduates who may provide that missing piece of your production puzzle to lead your operation to the pork Super Bowl.

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