PRIMGHAR—Dawn Koch is passionate about working with pigs.
The 43-year-old Primghar woman became a sow farm manager in January at Primrose Pork, a 2,500-head sow farm located about three miles south of Primghar.
AMVC Management Services of Audubon, a diversified swine management company, manages Primrose Pork, a breed-to-wean sow farm.
“Each week at the farm, sows are bred, sows are gestating and sows are giving birth, a process called farrowing,” Koch said. “After the sow gives birth to a litter of piglets, the sow will nurse the litter for about three weeks.
“The piglets weigh between 10 and 15 pounds after that period and are weaned from their mothers and are then transported to a finishing farm,” she said. “Every day on the farm, we take care of all the sows and their piglets.”
As a sow farm manager, she is responsible for providing daily leadership and direction to her team of employees as well as overseeing and monitoring Primrose Pork’s production performance.
“I hire, train and manage my team of employees, order feed, keep records and communicate with my veterinarian, truck drivers and support staff,” Koch said. “I oversee the flow of the farm by monitoring my targets and making the farm as successful as possible.”
She oversees a team of seven employees at Primrose Pork, including an assistant manager who helps her with her responsibilities.
“I love teaching and working with animals as well as being challenged,” Koch said. “Daily, I have the opportunity to mentor my employees and share my knowledge.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with pigs,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see my team’s hard work grow and bring continued success to the farm. I truly enjoy my job.”
As an AMVC sow farm manager, she has access to a lot of resources to help her do her job.
“I utilize the expertise of my production manager and veterinarian to make sure my farm is the best it can be,” Koch said. “In addition, AMVC staff helps with various other tasks like the farm’s manure management plan, sow data collection, human resources and accounting.
“Therefore, the challenges I face are minimal,” she said. “One of the challenges I face is putting the best team together as everyone learns a different way, has different skills and have different things that motivate them. I find every challenge I face to be a learning opportunity.”
Dan Weber, a production manager at AMVC, hired Koch for Primrose Pork. Today, he is mentoring her in AMVC’s Leadership Development Program.
“Dawn has a strong work ethic and a determined attitude,” Weber said. “She is very passionate and knowledgeable, and I am excited to have her as a leader on the farm management team.”
Koch recalled growing up on the farm of her grandfather Marlon “Slim” Kipfer just north of Bingham Lake, MN. The farm had cattle, horses, pigs and ducks.
“As a little girl, I grew up helping my grandpa with his sows and I enjoyed working with animals,” she said.
Koch has held many on-farm leadership positions in the past, including swine specialist, breeding and farrowing department lead roles, assistant manager and manager.
“I started working at a sow farm in 1996,” she said. “In the mid-2000s, I started with AMVC in northern Iowa and loved working for the company.”
Koch transitioned to southern Iowa with AMVC during the late 2000s.
“With strong family ties, I wanted to be closer to them and left AMVC,” she said. “Today, I am back working for AMVC in Primghar and have the best of both worlds. I appreciate AMVC’s family atmosphere and the AMVC team support.”
During the time she was not working with pigs, Koch managed the Out Back Lounge in Milford and ran a day care out of her Milford home.
“I was managing the Out Back Lounge when I received a call from a previous mentor informing me about a job opportunity with AMVC near Primghar,” Koch said. “I enjoyed working for AMVC and with pigs previously, and I was excited about the opportunity to come back and work for a great company.”
When she is not busy working at Primrose Pork, she spends time with her sons, 26-year-old Brandon and 15-year-old Nathon.
“I have seen the swine industry change throughout my career from my early days on my grandpa’s farm to today at Primrose Pork,” Koch said. “Working at a breed-to-wean sow farm takes hard work, dedication and passion. It is a rewarding career taking care of the animals.”