Meet our Team: Joe Popplewell, Breeding and Gestation
Sow farms are biosecure buildings where pigs are bred and housed, and then give birth to piglets. Employees take several steps to ensure that pigs remain healthy, including showering in and out of sow farms and cleaning and sanitizing the inside and outside of the barn.
Employees use proper handling techniques, which assure the safety and comfort of pigs and people on the farm.
Two employees are breeding sows through artificial insemination. After checking to make sure the sow is in heat, the catheter is inserted, and a bag of semen is attached at the end. The semen is naturally pulled into the sow. Artificial insemination is a safer method for the sows and the people who work with them.
The employee is checking a sow for signs of heat. Heat detection is the most important part of the breeding program. If she stands in heat, she is ready to be bred.
It starts with superior genetics to raise healthy animals.
The gestation barn is on the same farms as breeding and farrowing barns, which allows sows to be moved easily. Keeping the animals in one site location helps minimize contact to anything that may potentially carry disease.
This sow is lying down in its stall in the gestation barn. There, she can be fed a nutritious diet without competition from other sows and receives water 24/7 from a clean water nipple. When thirsty, the sow simply presses down on a button with her mouth to drink fresh water.
Sows live in the gestation barn after being bred. As they are gestating, or pregnant, veterinarians and farm employees monitor the health of the sow and piglets. Ultrasound is one way of doing so, and also lets farm employees know for sure that the sow is pregnant.
Feed is delivered to a farm on a regular basis, providing sows with a fresh and nutritious source of food. Feed bins are located outside the barn, with lines that bring the feed in and deliver it to the pigs.
Sows are moved to our gestation barns where they receive specialized veterinary care and nutrition.
Hungry piglets find food by nursing from their mother. The bars pictured keep the sow from accidentally laying or rolling on her piglets and gives the piglets space of their own on top of a heat pad.
Farrowing barns are located on the same farm as gestation and breeding barns. Biosecurity protocols, such as showering in, are followed by all employees to keep barns clean and disease free.
Employees monitor sows farrowing, or giving birth. If assistance is necessary, they are there ready to help. They also regularly check that piglets are nursing and overall in good health.
Young piglets require a warmer temperature than the sows do. Barns are cool enough to keep sows comfortable and heat pads are added to stalls for piglets to sit or lay on.
Temperature is very important to animal health. For each farrowing room, there is a monitor that controls the temperature. Likewise, fans can quickly cool a room off when it gets too warm.
Seaboard Foods' farms use needleless injection, using compressed air instead of a metal needle. This piglet is getting a shot of iron, as newborn piglets have low iron levels and tend to be anemic.
When the piglet is just a few days old it will receive an injection of iron, have its tail docked and be castrated if it is a male. This is important to do at a young age, as a piglet will feel less pain and it allows the iron supplement to be absorbed sooner.
Within minutes of being born, piglets will begin to look for their mother’s milk. Employees monitoring the farrowing room will make sure the piglets are able to find and drink milk from the mother’s teat. It is essential for piglets to get milk as soon as possible, as they receive all antibody protection from it within the first 24 hours of life.
Sows typically give birth to 10-12 piglets and nurse their offspring for about 3 weeks.
Nursery farms house pigs from the time they leave the sow farm until they are big enough to go to a finishing farm. They remain at the nursery for approximately one and a half months.
Throughout the day, employees at the nursery walk through and check pigs. They look for things such as feeder levels, barn temperature and controls, fans and sick or injured pigs.
Pigs have constant access to water through these water nipples. Employees check every day to make sure the water lines are working properly, as water is the most essential nutrient to a growing pig.
This pig is drinking from a water nipple, which is adjusted to the size of the pigs in the pen. The nipple should reach to the top of the shoulder of the smallest pig in the pen, so that all pigs are able to reach it comfortably.
Each day, an employee checks the feed bins at the farm. They check how much is left, the color of it, and if any has gone bad. Medicated feed to control or prevent disease is a different color to track its use. If there are any issues with feed, they are able to fix it or have a maintenance specialist come out to make repairs.
Later we move our male and female piglets to nursery barns where they receive daily care in open pens with other pigs from their sow barn.
Finishing farms keep pigs from the time they leave the nursery to the time they go to market. Here, the pigs grow to reach about 280 pounds.
In finishing barns there are pens which have about 20 pigs in each. This allows farm workers to give individualized attention to each pig, even in large barns.
At the finishing farm, pigs are housed with others from the same nursery farm. They are regularly checked to make sure they are not sick or injured and are eating enough food.
Pigs have constant access to clean, fresh water. Farmers check these water nipples daily to make sure they are working properly. On a hot day, pigs like to find a spot near the water to cool down.
Here a farm employee is checking the spout of a mister. Pigs are unable to sweat, so on a hot day misters will be turned on to control the temperature. The water lands on the pigs and evaporates, which cools down their body temperature.
High quality feed is important to keep pigs healthy. These feed bins outside of the barn have a window at the bottom, so employees are able to see the feed that will be transported into the barn.
Farm employees communicate while checking pens and pig health. Good communication is an integral part of a successful farm.
Living in open pens with peers from the nursery to ensure comfort and well-being, our pigs reach full weight in 20 weeks.
Pigs reach the processing plant at about 280 pounds. Those certified in animal handling unload the trucks and move the pigs to keep them calm.
This employee is grading and checking the temperature of carcasses. Properly chilled carcasses help with overall pork quality as well as food safety.
Keeping records for food safety is an imperative aspect of producing a top quality and wholesome product.
Bone-in pork loins are carried down the processing line. Trained meat cutters trim and bone the loins. Popular cuts like loin backribs, boneless loins and tenderloins come from bone-in loins.
Using technology to trim products has improved efficiency, accuracy and safety at the plant.
Quality inspectors in the plant routinely randomly check product on the production line to make sure it meets product specifications.
Technology and teamwork are keys to proper packaging of products.
Employees hand pack products in boxes.
Protective gloves, such as this, are heavy duty and protect the employees hand and the product he is working on.
Unique serial numbers on boxed products provide traceability for Seaboard Foods customers.
Communications helps shipping management ensure products reach customers wholesome and on time.
Pigs are processed in state-of-the art plants to ensure pork safety and consistent quality.
Our ProductsPrairie Fresh Pork Daily's Premium Meats
Seaboard Foods is committed to producing and shipping safe quality pork.