Stockman of the Year
Jess Graves, farrowing/weaner manager at Grove Farm, a 700 sow farrow-to-finish business in York, won the 2016 Trainee of the Year award. Three years on and she has been named Stockman of the Year.
She said that winning the award meant so much to her and she was keen to thank all those that had helped her along the way in her career.
Jess said: “If you want to achieve something in life, you’ve got to just give it your all and and you can achieve anything you want.”
She has single handily increased the farm’s creep in take at pre weaning by 100 grams and a change towards an all-in, all-out farrowing system has improved the overall health of the herd.
Previously, Jess completed two years at Bishop Burton College (2012-2014), where she studied pigs and passed her veterinary medicine qualification. She went to work Shedden Farms, where she undertook the Stockman + course and supervisor development training, coming out highly commended in both.
With over 10 years pig experience, Jess managed to create a structured split suckling regime, on farrowing week. These consist of hand feeding colostrum to individual piglets and split suckling the larger litters. This has improved her viability, pre weaning mortality down to single figures and number pigs weaned.
“I have managed to do some research and trial work on ad lib sow feeders within the farrowing house,” she said. “We are currently just in the process of changing all our automatic gestal feeders to adlibs.
In 2017, shortly after starting at Grove Farm, Jess said she noticed that the business used to farrow their gilts five days earlier before the rest of the batch was due.
“I put a plan forward and suggested that we changed how we farrow them,” she said. “Now we farrow the whole batch together and I have noticed that our herd health has improved, less disease risk and it’s more of an all in, all out, system.
“I have really enjoyed my time these last two years at Grove Farm. I have faced new challenges by becoming a manager and my confidence has bloomed.”
Jess added: “One of the best things in my life is when the sow is suckling and loving life – that’s when you know you’ve achieved everything and then the bacon wagon leaves the farm.”
What the Judges said:
“Jess’s enthusiasm, knowledge and dedication to her job and the pigs under her control are clear to see”