Harper Adams University
Harper Adams University picked up two of the big awards on the night – and livestock manager Richard Hooper immediately pledged that the company would be spurred onto even greater things by this success.
The 230-sow indoor farrow-to-finish unit, which operates a three-week batch farrowing and is a standalone enterprise within the university, won the Indoor Pig Producer of the Year award.
It was then adjudged to be the overall Pig Producer of the Year, after going head-to-head with the Outdoor Pig Producer of the Year, Wayland Farms.
After collecting the award, Richard said: “It’s absolutely fantastic; we really do try hard to deliver the best we possibly can – to be rewarded for that is absolutely fantastic.
“Hopefully, we’ll continue to get better, to do the best we can and inspire the next generation of students to get into this fantastic sector that we call the British pig industry.”
The unit has maintained a programme of reinvestment, enabling it to demonstrate and evaluate a number of technologies – including free farrowing crates, Nooyen floating floors, supplementary milk feeding, robotic pressure washing, air scrubbing, electrostatic particle ionisation, a multi-fast feed system, cough monitoring, LED lighting and automatic individual feeding systems.
It supports the research projects of 15 final-year students per year, including up to eight Pig Industry Scholarship students.
The unit is currently using Agrisyst recording as part of the AHDB Precision Pig Project. All pigs are electronically tagged at birth, enabling the performance and behaviour of many commercially available sire lines to be monitored.
Key performance figures include 33.2 pigs weaned/sow/year, with nearly 32 sold, daily liveweight gain (DLWG) from wean to finish at 818 grams/day, and feed conversion ratio (FCR) at 2.18, with carcases averaging 83.8kg.
A fully-slatted, environmentally- controlled 800-place, two room weaner building for pigs to 40kg is designed with flexible pen sizes for research, to be labour efficient and to deliver the optimum environment for the pigs.
The unit been trialling non-docking of piglet tails and aims to stop docking.
Alan Stewart, a senior lecturer at the university, added: “I think we can use the awards to inspire, as Richard said, the next generation and also get some kudos within Harper Adams University to progress and get recognition for the 20 years of incremental growth and some very good performance.”
What the Judges said:
“Despite the restrictions of a huge range of research projects and training significant numbers of students, Richard and his team sell almost 32 pigs per sow per year with top 10% growth rates and FCR, allowing the unit to make regular and substantial cash contributions to the University.”