Honestly, what keeps you awake at night as a farm manager or owner regarding people? Do you need to make changes, but realize that people are not engaged? Or have you hired an employee you thought was wonderful and one week later he is delivering less than he should?
The answer to these questions boil down to one single question: “why do I need to invest in people?” You must do it for three basic and fundamental reasons: to gain productivity. You will double the production and profit of your farm when you find skilled people. To have in your team, at the same time, productive and resilient people, that is, who are able to learn from difficulties. And to have a high level of engagement and participation, that is, people who make things happen.
Regarding people, we are moving from ordinary management to an increasingly smarter management with a focus on knowledge. This means that you can no longer be a manager who plays checkers, who treats the whole team the same way and communicates and engages the same way. Now you must be a manager who plays chess, that is, who knows the differences between his team members and who is able to deal with each one of them individually. After all, to differentiate your business in the market you, the manager, must have in your team people who are innovators and doers.
But what is the difference between motivation and engagement?
A common mistake made by managers in Brazil is to mistake motivation for engagement and many companies resort to magicians, tree-hugging and all sorts of group activities to motivate their employees. However, this motivation lasts only for a few days. Why? Because motivation is intrinsic, it is individual and you cannot touch it.
Engagement, on the other hand, is a functional and emotional commitment that is catalyzed and stimulated by enhancing the potential and performance of your talents. Usually these are the employees you can rely on at the farm, those you know will solve problems and go beyond the tasks they are supposed to carry out.
Therefore, you need engaged people in your business and the two main elements of engagement are progression and sense of fairness. Thus, you should bear in mind that people perform and engage in different ways. Consequently, assess your talents not for what they know and say, but for what they actually do.
Therefore, if you want to improve the engagement and performance levels of your team, you must continuously tell them what your goals are and align your expectations with their expectations.
Types of engaged people
There are basically three types of people in companies: those who are engaged, those who are not engaged and those who are disengaged. Those who are engaged deliver well, are focused and have the extra energy to do things. This is usually the kind of employee you can rely on at the farm.
Those who are not engaged are the employees who are needed at the farm, who work well, but who do not do anything that is not part of their job. They are not able to perform tasks that are strategic or not part of their routine.
Those who are disengaged, in turn, are those employees who deliver below the average and usually give excuses in the process. They usually bring more problems than solutions.
How can we work with these three profiles?
1st – Assess the engagement and competence of every employee by talking to them in order to understand their level of engagement.
2nd – Get rid of ambiguities, bureaucracy and disorganization.
3rd – Help your employees improve. Work on meritocracy.
4th – Lead by example as a manager. Do your part. Be a coach to your team.
In practice, uniqueness will improve performance and engagement but, above all, it will enhance knowledge. Thus, it all depends on how you will manage your team so that they are increasingly productive and engaged.
Text based on a lecture given by Eduardo Carmello at INFO360 2016.
The subject of this post may be unknown or sound curious to those working in agriculture, since the term accelerator is not yet a common term in our day-to-day life. However, accelerators are indirectly present around us more than we think. WhatsApp, Airbnb and Uber are some of the world companies that had their success stories boosted by a business accelerator. In Brazil, even though they are newer and less prominent, accelerators are also resulting in success cases.
What are accelerators after all?
In order to explain it more easily, let us make an analogy with a practical and common example from our day-to-day life: imagine you want to lose 5 kg. The weight loss “formula” is pretty well known, is it not? Proper diet and regular exercise. But in order to lose weight faster and at the same time with quality, we know that the support from professionals like dietitians and personal trainers would greatly help expedite the process by bringing more adequate methods, plans and routines, so that you can achieve your optimal weight and reach your objective faster and at the same time in a healthier way. A business accelerator is basically the same thing. By using mentors, contact networks, privileged information, and experience with business at larger scales and access to investment, accelerators can establish shorter and more assertive ways to big growth leap.
The startup accelerator model is already a reality in Brazil in markets linked to technology, particularly in business models related to the internet and mobile technology. However, it is not a common practice in agribusiness, because it requires a large structure and has well-established business models, unlike technology projects, that may start small and are quite varied.
However, this reality is starting to change. With increasing production costs and less people interested in and able to work in the field and increasingly demanding and connected markets that define the types of products they want to consume on a daily basis, as well as their production processes (less impact, more health, more standardization, traceability, etc.), companies and producers are forced to innovate. In this innovation process there is room for actions that boost acceleration initiatives.
An example of that is the Agriness Accelerator, an innovative project created by Agriness to boost productivity in pig farms. The company is currently the market leader in technology and management for the pig industry and based on its THOUGHT+1 methodology, it created a productivity acceleration program designed to support pig producers and their staff to make production management more efficient, with less waste and greater profits.
In the case of pig production and agribusiness in general, the concept of acceleration is the same as that of startups, but the focus is no longer on sales and market expansion strategies, but rather on people, processes, information and, particularly, on the management attitude towards maximum productive efficiency. Examples such as that of pig producer Ricardo Coldebella, who participates in an acceleration program conducted by the Agriness Accelerator at the Copérdia cooperative, prove that structured support does accelerate business growth. After two years participating in the acceleration program, the pig producer had a productivity gain of 4 weaned piglets/Sow/Year and an 18% improvement in his production result.
“We are happy to be able to contribute with the industry and help improve results and the life of rural producers. We are sure that Brazilians are able to produce with better quality, but they need guidance, mentorship, follow-up and methods that show them the way”, says Everton Gubert, Agriness CEO and coordinator of the Accelerator established by the company.
Other initiatives designed to foster innovation with a focus on agribusiness are spreading throughout Brazil and will surely open up spaces for models like the one promoted by Agriness. An accelerator can certainly help agribusiness take off with a focus on eliminating waste and increasing management efficiency. Then, it is up to you to work hard, improve your production efficiency and increase your profitability.[box]
TIPS TO ACCELERATE
ANALYZE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY AND CHECK IF YOUR FARM IS MANAGING TO DELIVER TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL. IF IT IS NOT, YOU DEFINITELY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO INCREASE YOUR GAINS WITHOUT HAVING TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTION STRUCTURE.
TRY TO HAVE A METHOD, TOOLS AND CONTINUOUS SUPPORT IN PRODUCTION AND PEOPLE MANAGEMENT PROCESSES BECAUSE THEY ARE THE FOCUS OF THE PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITY.
LOOK FOR EXPERIENCED MENTORS AND CONSULTANTS CAN REALLY LEAD YOU IN AN ACCELERATION PROCESS, WHO HAVE CLARITY ABOUT WHAT SHOULD BE ACHIEVED AT THE END OF EVERY STEP.[/box]
Had you heard the term “accelerator” before? Have you ever related an acceleration model to pig production or seen one applied to this industry?
Pig farmers know that you need more than performance data to have an accurate view of the farm to support your business decisions. You need a global and systemic view of pig production considering the installed capacity of the farm, instead of focusing on individual processes.
This why we developed the concept of maximum production potential. This concept links live production with economic aspects, directing improvement actions to achieve the goal of delivering pigs.
Calculate your potential
In order to better understand the concept of maximum production potential, let’s compare a farm to a restaurant. Let’s say we have a restaurant with 100 tables with four places each. It opens five days a week, only for lunch, and each person spends, on average, BRL 25, or BRL 100 per table. You hired a sufficient number of cooks and waiters to serve these 400 customers daily.
Labor and infrastructure costs are fixed, regardless the number of people served daily. In order to be profitable, the restaurant must serve 400 people during lunch. If only 350 people are served, the idle capacity will negatively impact the profit. If you serve 100 tables with four people for five days a week, this means that the maximum production potential is 104,000 people per year, with an expected revenue of BRL 2.6 million.
The same principle can be applied to the pig farm. Let’s consider, for instance, a farm with 520 sows. If the genetic potential is to wean 30 piglets per sow per year, the farm’s installed capacity is to produce 15,600 piglets per year. If only 15,000 piglets are delivered, this means that 600 less piglets were produced, despite the higher potential.
Focus on delivery
The vision directed by delivery capacity allows a better understanding of the global goal of the farm. If you know your annual production capacity, it is easier to determine the monthly and weekly deliveries. If these goals are not met, you need to make a more detailed assessment of the performance data to try to identify where the problem lies.
Also, when the farm’s maximum production potential is defined, all the people involved have a clear understanding of production status and what are the expected piglet deliveries per year, month, and week. You need to prepare your team to understand this concept, so everyone can work together to improve the results.
What about you? Have you already defined the maximum production potential of your farm? Share your experience with us!
In order to make pig production an increasingly profitable business, increasing productivity should be a continuous target of farms. Just like an industry is able to define the installed capacity of a plant – measuring the amount of products their equipment is able to manufacture – farms can (and should!) forecast how many piglets their sows are able to produce.
However, defining this target is still a great challenge for farm managers, particularly because they are not sure about one rather practical question: how many piglets should a sow produce throughout its life? The first step to get an answer to this question is to search for information with genetic companies, because they are able to estimate the maximum number of piglets their sows are able to produce.
This is the number that should be aimed at and, together with other factors; it will indicate the maximum productive potential of the farm. In order for this potential to be reached, indicators should not be analyzed in isolation; the analysis should rather consider the performance of the sows and its impact on production as a whole. Producers are often concerned only with getting a good ratio of pigs weaned per sow per year and a good retention rate up to the third parity. But when they cull a sow, they don’t ask how much it has produced throughout its whole productive life. Has all the genetic potential been achieved? If it could have produced 100 piglets during the period it was at the farm, but at the time it was culled you find out that it produced only 40 or 50, for example, this means that there has been a considerable waste.
The difference between what could have been produced by every sow and what was actually produced means money lost. When you have clarity about the production potential of a sow during its whole productive life, it becomes easier to identify the points of waste. Maybe the sow has produced less because of low parity rates, early culling, high mortality rate, etc.
The analysis of these and other indicators makes more sense when you know the goal to be achieved. Based on the predicted genetic performance and considering the available infrastructure, including labor and facilities, you can anticipate the maximum productive potential of your sows, the number of piglets they should produce throughout their lives, and thus set targets to achieve it.
If the goal is always to try to have lower cost and zero waste, the team should work so that all sows produce at a maximum, because unproductive sows lead to a reduction in profits. Additionally, we have to check the performance of the sows more broadly in order to better identify individual waste – that is – how much you fail to gain with every sow. This broader view is fundamental to implement the Thought+1 process in the farm and fight waste, eliminating for good this major factor that affects pig production.
What about you? Do you already know the productive potential of the sows in your farm? Please share your experience with us!
In the industry, one of the main indicators of productivity is the level of capacity utilization, which is the maximum output of the machinery of a factory. Outputs lower than installed capacity mean that the resources are underutilized, resulting in profitability losses. This is called idle capacity.
In pig production, idle capacity may also be problem. The difference is that, instead of machinery, we have sows. The farmer must have accurate knowledge of how much sows are producing and their production potential to be profitable. One of the most important loss indicators is the number of non-productive days (NPD), which is the sum of the periods during which sows are neither gestating or lactating.
NPD means economic loss
From the business perspective, non-productive days cause losses because during these days sows continue to consume feed, use space and labor hours, as well as veterinary products, and do not produce anything, which means the farm is being underutilized.
A high NPD number may be a direct result of one or several of the following situations: long weaning-estrus interval (WEI), number of empty sows, repeated cycling, abortion, false gestation, sow mortality and culling, etc. These indicators influence the number of farrowings per sow per year (FSY), which in turn, directly affects the main indicator of reproductive efficiency, which is the total number of weaned piglets per sow per year (WSY).
NPD mean losses
Non-productive days have several causes, and you must have accurate and systematized information on all of them in order to determine which has the strongest impact on your business. As an example, we will assess a sow farm with 660 sows with an average of 29.81 weaned piglets per sow per year (WSY) that sells 7-kg piglets at an average price of BRL 95 each.
Before analyzing the costs, we need to convert NPD in weaned piglets by dividing WSY per 365 days to obtain the number of piglets produced per sow per day. In this example, dividing 29.81 per 365 results in 0.0817 piglet per sow per day. If each piglet is sold at BRL 95, then the cost of each NPD is BRL 7.76 (0.0817 X BRL 95.00), which is the amount of money not earned by farm per NPD!
This piece of information will allow us to identify where the actual losses are. Therefore, when analyzing the production indexes of the farm, the type of event that generated the highest number of non-productive days (e.g., abortion, return to estrus rate, culling of gestating sows, etc.) should be identified. This assessment will aid the farm manager to make decisions that will bring the best return on investments.
The NPD also help measuring the impacts of production events. For instance, which is the impact of 42-d weaning-estrus interval? You only have to multiply 42 days by BRL 7.76 (cost of each NPD). Now you know that this single event results in BRL 325.92 loss in future farm revenues, in addition of the cost of maintaining non-productive sows in the herd.
The economic impact of each event that causes one NPD can be used as a guideline to establish an action plan to reduce the number of non-productive days. However, the cost of improvement actions should also be taken into account; the difference between the NPD cost and the improvement action cost will determine its feasibility. So, let’s get to work!
What about you? Do you keep an accurate control of your farm’s NPDs? Tell us in the comments section.
In the day-to-day routine of pig production, we usually talk a lot about growth, productivity rates and performance indicators, a clear sign that data collection is already an integral part of the daily activities in the farm. The question is: how can all these data be turned into quality information that can effectively contribute to identify issues and make decisions on the business?
Information is a piece of data with meaning, that is, organized and processed to be useful to people. In farms, numbers such as total number of sows bred, total number of parities and total number of weaned pigs are only data and if they are analyzed out of context, they don’t help you make any decision. However, access to these data in an organized and contextualized manner will allow you to assess productivity and its progress over time more precisely.
Therefore, when farm managers work based on reliable information, they are able to clearly see production bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. With this picture in their hands, it is easier for leaders to share the issues with their team, engaging all those involved in the search for solutions.
We believe that the right information, at the right time, to the right person is the factor that will lead to a leap towards excellence management, enabling farm workers to increase their productivity. However, in addition to believing in people’s potential, you should know how to collect, organize and analyze production information so that you can make every part of your farm more efficient, with the main goal of reaching the maximum production potential.
In order to do that, there are four fundamental steps:
1) Use technology as a management tool. Implement computerized systems to make information input, storage and use more reliable, quicker and practical.
2) Care about data collection. Establish auditing procedures for the data that is collected and entered into your system. Remember: everything that happens in the farm should be in your system; only this way it is possible to have a comprehensive and accurate management.
3) Create an agenda to analyze information. The frequent use of information will make you better prepared to identify changes and opportunities for improvement.
4) Make decisions based on information. From the analysis of collected information, set targets and make a plan to improve farm results. Managing production requires knowing exactly how much the farm can produce and then prepare the route to get there, using your management tools and production information to outline the route.
But in addition to knowledge and skill, this process requires attitude, that is, you must wish to make things better every day. You will soon realize that information can be the main raw material for the growth of your farm. Unlike the results achieved by genetics, nutrition and health, for example, which require more time and resources, the results generated by information depend much more on the manager, his attitude towards the farm performance and the challenges faced by the farm. So, let’s get on it!
What about you? Have you been using information to leverage the management of your farm?