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Farrowing Preparation Minimises Errors

26 September 2012, at 8:18am

US - Becky Matli believes preplanning and foresight can help pork producers avoid production problems that might occur during the farrowing process. As a midwife at Borgic Farms, Inc. in Raymond, Ill., Ms Matli spends time getting everything ready in advance so when piglets arrive, they have a better opportunity to thrive.

It's this focus on doing things right that earned Matli a place among the top five Honoring Pork Caregivers award winners. Nearly 50 pork professionals representing production systems from 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.

Ms Matli has been involved in pork production for 25 years, serving as a midwife for the last nine. Her "be ready" approach includes preparing records, warming boxes, heat lamps and other supplies before sows farrow. "I want every piglet to have the best chance for a healthy start," she says.

Ms Matli's responsibilities include watching Borgic Farms' 3,000 sows during farrowing to determine whether or not they need assistance, and then helping baby pigs get off to a good start. Because of her emphasis on preparation, she has helped lower stillborn rates and pre-weaning mortality for the farm. She also has been an integral part of the team that has moved the farm from 26 pigs per sow per year to 28.7 pigs per sow per year.

"Becky is a great example of an ordinary person who is doing extraordinary work every day," says Sarah Probst Miller, DVM, who has worked with Borgic Farms, Inc. for more than 10 years. "Her devotion to sows as they farrow and baby pigs directly after they are born is astute. Becky continues to do a great job day in and day out in spite of her personal health challenges."

Ms Matli has been fighting cancer for three and a half years and has had numerous health issues this past winter. Despite these setbacks, she looks forward to the responsibilities associated with her job.

"The key is being prepared for farrowing so I can do my job right the first time," she says. "I want to make sure the piglets are cleaned, warmed and can get back to the sow quickly to get the colostrum they need for a healthy start. My job is great because I get to see life unfold before my eyes every day."

Ms Matli also understands the importance of what she does and takes her role seriously. "We're feeding people all over the world," she says with conviction. "If I do my job right, more people will be fed because I'm helping make sure pigs and sows stay healthy," she says.

"Becky's commitment is inspiring, and we congratulate her as an Honoring Caregivers award winner," says Benjamin Church, senior marketing communications manager, Pfizer Animal Health. "Her vigilant pig care and dedication to making positive improvements to on-farm practices is helping ensure a high standard of herd health management for Borgic Farms, in addition to providing a benchmark for the industry."