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ISU names new swine farms manager

By Staff | Jun 13, 2015

AMES (ISU) – How does a person who grew up in small Iowa towns, graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in forestry and worked with the U.S. Forest Service in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest doing wildland firefighting become the university’s swine farms manager? Just ask Jeff Hartwig, who’s been in that position since October.

“My swine background is unique in some aspects, but I was interested in this position at Iowa State for several reasons, including the professional challenges it offers,” he said. “And the idea that the main production from our farms is learning and research rather than actual animals is very intriguing to me.”

Hartwig’s first experience with pigs was after graduation when he worked in a farrowing unit on a 2,500-head sow farm with Christensen Farms in Minnesota. He quickly moved up with the company to become a finishing service manager, and eventually returned to Iowa as a senior field advisor for The Maschhoffs where he worked with their employee-managed system in north central Iowa.

“I started with 12 sites and eight employees, and helped grow that system to 20 sites and 24 employees,” Hartwig said. “This experience with managing labor and multiple sites with multiple activities gives me a strong advantage as I’ve started in my new role with the swine farms. Managing labor is always a large part of managing a system and utilizing students at the ISU Swine Farms is a unique challenge.”

Hartwig’s commercial production experience included leadership training opportunities that continue to be valuable tools as he manages people and their personalities.

“Student labor is a vital part of our labor force and we plan to improve on our biosecurity to better teach students about industry expectations,” he said. “Our facility designs are limiting factors, as is the high number of visitors to our farms, but a good plan to limit risk will always be beneficial.”

While facility repair and maintenance remain on the to-do list, Hartwig said one goal is to invest in what’s available to maximize adequate teaching and research opportunities for the university, as well as information and access for the general public.

“I want students, whether they’re animal science majors or not, to know the teaching farm is there for everyone’s benefit,” he said. “The teaching farm has viewing rooms in every barn so visitors can see production practices first-hand without needing to actually be in the barn with the pigs.

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