Unit Manager of the Year
Ben Brown is unit manager of Southrepps Farm, a 1,200-gilt agistor breeding unit, owned by Norfolk Free Range.
On winning his award, Ben said: “I’d like to thank my staff – I’m only as good as the staff. It’s nice to be recognised for something I love doing.”
Norfolk Free Range’s director, Steve Hart, said Ben is so effective because he is a hands-on manager who leads from the front and doesn’t expect anyone to do a job that he can’t and won’t do.
Mr Hart said: “Progression inside Norfolk Free Range is always based on merit, and motivation. Training is freely given, and some of our staff have recently completed the BQP & AHDB Management Development Programme.”
After six batches, Ben is weaning just under 30 pigs/sow/year from gilts, with 12.7 born alive and 5.6% pre- weaning mortality.
Ben has changed the perception of a community that was largely anti-pigs by engaging with the village Facebook page to introduce himself and staff and answer questions about production, and by showing passers-by around (under strict biosecurity).
Among his unique ideas is taking a selfie with every gilt when she first lays in the farrowing ark. He has encouraged a positive relationship between stockman and pig, which is as important to his staff as it is to him.
Southrepps records its data in PigVision, as is the way for all Norfolk Free Range breeding units. The herd is on EID tags (as well as a management tag), and an EID wand limits mistakes in data from misreads.
Mr Hart said: “I am reliably informed that the data that comes from Ben’s unit is a dream to enter. Ben is keen to use PigVision Mobile, just as soon as it pairs with the EID wands and works as described. After each wean the parity analysis is gone through in detail by Ben, and he makes sure his whole team knows what the numbers mean and how they can be improved upon.’
Ben said: “I’d like to thank Steve Hart and his company for putting their trust in me to run the unit. The best part of the job is the pigs and seeing every day if we can get better and better. I know that I am doing everything right on the unit and that what I do everyday has been recognised in this award.”
What the Judges said:
“Ben manages a 1,200 sow unit and is achieving fantastic results from his young herd”