My plan for project success

Some readers may recall that I have previously mentioned a project where the aim is to reduce feed usage in Danish pig herds.
This project is now coming to an end, and although it was focusing on feed management, the conclusions from the herd reports and data collection tell us a lot of other things about what differentiate the successful herds versus the ones that struggled.
When you want to optimise productivity or help someone in your role as an advisor, these learnings from our project may be worthwhile considering.
Have a plan: However, a plan is not just a plan. A plan needs to be made with everyone involved based on a brainstorming process, where everyone can bring their input and ideas on the table. A plan needs to include the focus areas, what your actions are and what they require, the goals, deadlines and the responsible person. A plan must not be too short, as it will then become superficial. On the other hand, a long and comprehensive plan is not desirable either, as it becomes too overwhelming and you lose focus.
Follow up on the plan: It is the minority of us who can manage to set goals and keep focused and motivated to work efficiently towards these goals and achieve them on our own. It is good to have someone to follow up on you – did you do as agreed? And what happened? If you are the owner, working with an advisor or some sort of external person to the business will be a good idea. Follow up frequently.
Focus on feed: Well it speaks for itself, when the project was about feed. Nevertheless, optimising your feed usage as well as reducing your feed costs has a significant effect on your bottom line. Some of the participants say that it has secured them a positive financial result for the period they were part of this project. It is about the right feed to the right price to the right age of pig.
Stop if need be: In the project we found that if a herd broke down with, for example, PRRS, focus was moved from feed management to health management. This is totally understandable, but you need to make an active decision, and make a new plan in these situations. Focus will be regained, when the disease is under control. Other factors, such as a personal life crisis, can cause disruptions in your process. Ensure you inform everyone involved.
And finally, do not think big investments are necessarily the way forward to achieve good results. Some participants made plans that included buying a new mill. They did not get the finance in place and blamed lack of success on the lack of investment. The two most successful pig units in the project both have older buildings and systems but make tremendous results.

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About The Author

Editor of Pig World and contributor to LBM’s other farming publications. Also National Pig Association webmaster. Formerly political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years. Enjoy a bit of media punditry. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm. Work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Under-9 football coach and big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.