Special Achievement of the Year
Stephen and Karen Thompson are the owners of Moss Valley Fine Meats, a Derbyshire-based business that has 220 sows to finish and an on-farm butchery that uses only its own stock.
Mr Thompson left school and went to Nottingham University, where he not only got a degree in agriculture, but met Karen, who now runs the pig unit, while he works on the butchery side.
Karen Thompson said: “It’s wonderful to be recognised in this way – it’s been a long time coming. We’ve always been advocates of reducing usage of antibiotics since university. The result is that we have very low antibiotic use, because of the way we farm.”
The pig unit was started as soon as Mr Thompson left university, with him building new sheds and expanding each year. He is now refurbishing sheds each year, with the greatest use of easy-to-clean plastic, so the business can keep disease levels low.
He said that for a long time, with their university backgrounds, known that the widespread use of antibiotics in both humans and animals was unsustainable. To this end, it has made a long-term commitment to reducing its usage of antibiotics. This, he said, has been achieved by high biosecurity, vaccination, feed, cleanliness, disinfection and acidified water.
Recently, Moss Valley Fine Meats has have been working closely with Harbro to make its diets suit the pigs at all stages, and have no antibiotics in any diets and 1/2 rate zinc for 10 days only.
All early stage buildings are double-disinfected, he said, and the unit has a five-day pig-free entry requirement.
Speaking after collecting the award, Stephen said: “Tonight, the Soil Association is tweeting that pig farmers are still blanket medicating most of their pigs – we are using less than 1mg/kg of antibiotics and we are a commercial, bog standard farm, and it can be done.
“We’re using less than organic farmers and the Soil Association is tweeting that it can’t be done – it’s really annoying.”
Looking at antibiotic usage, Stephen added: “The rest of the industry is getting there – we’ve been leading from the front. We knew what we wanted and people are catching up and it’s really good what the pig industry is doing.”
What the Judges said:
“Stephen’s strict biosecurity protocol has delivered phenomenally low anti-microbial usage”