Hello, my name is Seth Mitchell, and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign pursuing a double major in Animal Science and Agricultural and Consumer Economics. Having grown up showing pigs, I gained an interest in animal nutrition which initially inspired me to pursue a degree in animal sciences. After exploring other areas of agriculture, I decided that a dual major with agricultural economics would be valuable for understanding business management and policy issues on a broader scale. In this way, I can use my combined degrees to achieve my goal of business management within the livestock nutrition sector.
Naturally, I was very excited to be paired with Dr. Omarh Mendoza, the Director of Nutrition for The Maschhoffs, Inc., for my fall semester two-day industry immersion experience. In November, I traveled to the main office in Carlyle, Illinois, where I was welcomed by Omarh. He started by explaining the background of the large swine production company, as well as his personal background and role at The Maschhoffs. From the beginning, it was apparent that he is passionate about his job. We also began discussing formulation, feed ingredients, and the new challenge of removing ractopamine from all diets to accommodate trade with China. After that, I began meeting with several of Omarh’s colleagues to gain a broader understanding of the entire nutrition process and the company as a whole. First, I sat down with Lindsey Core who explained her role as a merchandiser purchasing primarily macro and micro ingredients for the feed rations. Then I met with Doug Gibson, the Quality Assurance Manager, whose main project at the time was testing for residual ractopamine in the feed mills. He also showed me how he evaluates charts for inconsistent data from the feed mills, such as high corn moisture, so they can modify the rations if needed. After meeting with Doug, I had the opportunity to talk to Di Richey, Susan Schwartzkopf, and Chelsey Ammann at the feed order desk about the process of communicating with the production partners and the feed mills to get the correct ration to the farms. After lunch, I met with Amy Kolweier who discussed her role as a grain originator for the feed mills and finished the day with Mark Nagel, the manager of the Carlyle Mill. Mark gave me a tour of the mill and explained the pelleting process since nearly all the feeds are pelleted. Overall, day one of my industry immersion experience at The Maschhoffs was full of meeting great people and soaking up knowledge.
Day two started with Katie Brown, the Senior Research Manager, who talked about some of her current research projects at the farm and how the company conducts research to maximize profitability. Then I spent a couple of hours back with Omarh working on formulation, feed cost analysis, and looking at iodine values as a measure of unsaturation in fat to determine carcass quality. He also showed me some data from recent studies involving the effects on carcass traits and growth traits by various fat sources in feed rations. It was very interesting to learn about the challenges of balancing a ration to satisfy the iodine value standards of the packers while remaining the least cost for the company. After that, I met with Justin Fix, the Director of Genetics, where I learned about the company’s maternal and terminal lines. I also met with Dale Hentges, the Associate Director of Genetic Programs, who told me some statistics about the herd’s genetics. He also discussed the creation of indexes to measure the economic value of traits as well as the use of post-cervical AI rods. I ended the day with Nick in the marketing department who talked about the packers who purchase swine from The Maschhoffs and how the contracts are worded with a price formula. He also spoke about the organizational structure of the production managers who oversee a region and are the main point of contact for the production partners. That wrapped up another big day of learning.
My industry immersion experience at The Maschhoffs was truly eye-opening to the opportunities that exist in animal science and feed nutrition. It was incredible to see the amount of detail, resources, and research that the company puts into achieving the least cost per pound of gain while maintaining a high-quality product. I am extremely thankful to Dr. Omarh Mendoza and his colleagues for taking the time to meet with me and share their expertise. Also, thanks to Jodie and Jeff at the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois for making this industry immersion experience possible. Without a doubt, I am more excited than ever for my future career in the industry, and I am looking forward to my business pairing in the spring semester.