Congratulations to all our 2019 finalists and winners
Indoor & Overall Producer of the Year, Harper Adams University
Richard Hooper is livestock unit manager at Harper Adams University in Shropshire, a 230-sow farrow-to-finish unit. In the last 12 months, the business has constructed a new fully slatted, fully environmentally controlled 800-place, two room, weaner building for pigs from weaning to 40kg. It is designed to have flexible pen sizes for research from six pigs/pen to 25 pigs/pen, to be labour efficient and to have the optimum environment for the pigs. The unit now monitors piglet feeding behaviour through EID tags and readers in the farrowing area. The unit has actively been finding new outlets for its pork rather than relying solely on marketing to a large processor. The unit supplies all the pork for the kitchens at Harper, all the pork for a local award-winning butcher and supplies a small processor.
“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, which is standalone in financial terms, to make regular and substantial cash contributions to the University.
“Harper operates a strict biosecurity protocol and still manages up to 3000 visitors each year from all walks of life, so under that level of scrutiny, the pigs and the unit have to look the best they can at all times.”
Finisher of the Year, William de Feyter, de Feyter Agri
William de Feyter took on the 160 pigs from his father Edward at Athills Farm in Norfolk after returning from Harper Adams University three years ago. Not long after returning, he started renting Bristows Farm, a local piggery from a neighbour of 800 places. He runs a 7-100kg straw-based finishing system. A daily scrape through system at Bristows farm consists of three buildings, with 20-30 pigs per pen. Athills Farm consists of two small yards with 60 in each. The piggery has a unique fan system installed which allows air to be blown across the pens in the hotter weather.
“William came across as very thorough in his approach, does a great job with the smaller weaners, getting them off to a good start to push them on, and he is getting good results from older buildings, his approach to any vice issues was good and he was very positive and pro-active in his approach and his engagement with the wider industry through senior positions in the YFC. His figures also compare well against the industry averages, he’s top 10% for DLWG, Mortality, Feeding days and FCR on 2/3 of the batches”.
Herd Productivity Award, P&M Pigs
Paul Hume and his team run a 950-sow outdoor breeding unit on a three-week batch production system, weaning at four weeks old at 7.5kg. He moved sites in Autumn 2017 and had a repopulation at the same time, with this, he and the team did a full clean and disinfect on all their equipment. The new site was based 10 miles away, and the fields had been sown with grass ready for the arrival of the new stock. The new sows are a cross of Danish Landrace and White Duroc and the grandparents are Pure Landrace. He has a complete closed herd and serves his grandparents with White Duroc normally, but every 20+ months he serves the highest performing grandparents with LR semen to produce a completely new batch of grandparents. His herd has been closed since the last load of gilts came off the lorry in November 2017.
“Judges were impressed by not only how many pigs weaned/sow/year Paul was producing on an outdoor unit (29.66), but also by the weaning weight, which at an average of 7.94kg was considered worthy of recognition. Paul is continuously investing in and improving his unit with a focus on thriving piglets and biosecurity. This, his obvious attention to detail and proactive management was evident in his application and ensures his performance is nothing short of exceptional.”
Innovation of the Year, Bridge House Farms
Northamptonshire-based Bridge House Farm is an indoor fully-slatted farrow-to-finish Genesus unit. The farm operates a three-stage finishing process, with around 650 sows. All pigs born at Bridge House Farm are individually ID’d using a bespoke UHF RFID system (EID). This allows the individual ID of the pig to be registered at birth with 100% accuracy. Pigs are weighed individually at birth, weaning and finishing/off test using this system. This allows accurate mapping of data and pig performance to enhance genetic selection. The system was mostly designed by staff and business development manager Charlie Thompson to fit into the working routine and delivered by Charman Ag to its spec.
“There’s been a lot of talk of Ultra High Frequency Ear Tag Technology, and advantages thereof. Charlie and his team have proven usefulness of this technology on farm. Within the Genesus nucleus unit, the team has been capturing information at birth, growth rates and supplementary information about the Dam. This system has saved time for staff, improved data accuracy and ensures full traceability. It also enables bulk reading of pig ID’s down a race.”
Marketing Initiative of the Year, Dingley Dell Pork
Suffolk-based Mark & Paul Hayward own Dingley Dell Pork. The farm has 900 sows, which are farrowed-to-finish. All animals are outdoors with five-week weaning, then weaners and finishers are put in tents with hurdled runs. The unit is moved or flipped every six months so that it can grass and undersow with clover or grow flowers to support its million bees on farm project. The Hayward’s have a business partner who has a 24-hour butchery supplying 600 restaurants a day around London and the south east. In partnership, it has developed a range of products and it has recently launched Dingley Dell Cured, a joint venture charcuterie factory.
The judges said: “Mark and Paul Hayward’s business is a remarkable story of reinvention. After exiting selling to major supermarkets, the business decided to focus entirely on taste and product quality and develop a major brand principally for Food service use. They partner with a 24 hour butchery and maintain an intensive marketing campaign, including having 500 chefs visit the farm each year. The business has been a resounding success, and they now supply a whole raft of premium ‘name’ restaurants, as well as Cathay Pacific and BA. They began exporting 6 years ago and now supply their premium product to many exotic locations all over the world. Innovation and simple hard work is their key and their success is well deserved.”
NPA Allied Member of the Year, MS Schippers
MS Schippers offers an extensive assortment of products and solutions for pig farming, but is much more than a supplier of products for livestock in Europe and beyond. Its HyCare method is a holistic approach to managing pigs, combining biosecurity and other steps that put health and animal welfare first without losing sight of productivity. The most important theme of the HyCare method is hygiene. The company stresses that animals living in a healthy environment suffer less disease and stress and have an improved resistance, leading to a significant decrease in antibiotic use. The company says: “We have had a great ‘Passion for Farming’ for 50 years now. We serve livestock farmers and go to great lengths for it.”
Outdoor Pig Producer of the Year, Wayland Farms
Wayland Farms is a large-scale producer of outdoor reared pigs operating a high health status herd of 10,000 sows and gilts. The company supplies the premium pork retail market and has been working directly with Tesco for more than 25 years. All pigs are finished on straw on both owned and contracted farms, to 110kgs live weight. There is a total of 80 sites covering a three-stage system: breeding, nursery and finishing supplying the highest quality pork into a dedicated processing and packing site owned by Cranswick. The investment made saw a different type of feeding system installed and then different food was used, a smaller, thin type compared with normal roll feed. This movement to trough feeding has produced reduction in feed waste and soil pollution.
“During the judging process Wayland Farms demonstrated an impressive degree of integrity, professionalism and a clear commitment to both animals and people alike. Their business infrastructure and philosophy both focus on animal welfare, biosecurity, sustainability and the desire to ‘do the right thing’, which have all evidently contributed to such a successful model.”
Pedigree Breeder of the Year, Fairoaks Pedigree Pigs
Christopher Impey owns Fairoaks Pedigree Pigs in Tonyrefail, Mid Glamorgan, where he keeps a small herd of pedigree Berkshire pigs. He usually keeps around six sows and four boars. All his litters are pure bred and birth notified and, depending on particular bloodlines, the average litter is between eight and ten. With two farrowing intervals per year, he said that he registers two or three per litter. He registers around 15-20 pedigree pigs per year. He exports pedigree pigs all across the world. He has taken pigs to Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, Sweden and Holland and sent pigs to Mexico, Japan, America, and even to Barbados.
“Chris is a long established breeder with wide experience of breeding. All questions were answered well and conservation is clearly of paramount importance.”
Special Achievement of the Year, Stephen Thompson, Moss Valley Fine Meats
Stephen Thompson is the owner 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. 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.
“Stephen’s programme of refurbishment and dietary adjustment, coupled with a strict biosecurity protocol has delivered phenomenally low anti-microbial usage.”
Stockman of the Year, Jess Graves, Grove Farm
Jess Graves is farrowing/weaner manager at Grove Farm a 700 sow farrow-to-finish business in York. The farm has 119 nearly refurbished farrowing crates, while the sows are on a tri-bar system within the farrowing house and the piglet creep area consists of an underfloor heater which she manages. This is all operated by wood pellets and bio mass boilers. The farm runs a four-week batch system, farrowing, on average, 124 sows weaning a 7kg piglet. She has worked at Grove Farm for more than two and a half years. Previously, she completed two years at Bishop Burton College studying pigs and passed her veterinary medicine qualification.
“Jess won Trainee of the year in 2016 she now manages the farrowing house and weaner accommodation on a 700 sow unit near York . Her enthusiasm/knowledge and dedication to her job and the pigs under her control are clear to see her infectious personality has had a very positive effect on the rest of the team.”
Trainee of the Year, Oliver Havers, BQP
Oliver joined the BQP Growing Team in December 2017 on an apprenticeship working alongside the field staff who oversee the straw-based growing operation. BQP currently own over 60,000 outdoor breeding sows and have over 300,000 growing pig places spread over East Anglia, and the rest of England. Oliver has been working in the pig industry for the last six years working on the family’s local pig unit in his spare time and school holidays. At 18 years old, he finished at Stradbroke High School two years ago. He worked with BQP during a two-week work experience in year 10, working alongside Stephen Bennett and Mark Jagger.
“Oliver is a remarkable young man whose achievements should convince anyone that training gives value for money. He is capable and uses his quiet confidence to convince his finisher Agistors of new and improved management techniques which greatly benefit them and the overall business.”
Unit Manager of the Year, Ben Brown, Norfolk Free Range
Ben Brown is unit manager of Southrepps Farm, a 1,200-gilt agistor breeding unit, owned by Norfolk Free Range. Steve Hart, director of Norfolk Free Range, said that Ben has found skills he didn’t know he had and learnt others he thought were beyond his reach. He’s been able to covert a community that was largely anti-pigs into supporters of his free-range breeding unit. From engaging with the village Facebook page and using that forum to introduce himself and his staff and to answer questions about methods of production, always with kindness and humility, to taking time out to show walkers and passers-by around, under strict biosecurity.
“Ben manages a 1200 Sow outdoor unit for Norfolk Free Range he is achieving fantastic results from his young herd. Along with being an excellent man Manager who leads from the front he has also been able to convert a local community that was largely anti-Pig into supporters of his Free Range Unit”.
Young Farm Vet of the Year, Alasdair MacLeod, Garth Pig Practice
Alasdair MacLeod, qualified in 2010, and works for the Garth Pig Practice in East Yorkshire. He qualified from Universidad Cardenal Herrera in Valencia, Spain, having also spent an Erasmus year of his studies at Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa in Portugal. When he finished university, he spent nine months managing the family farm of 750 sows and moved to Yorkshire in 2011 to work at breeding company ACMC as assistant production manager to Malcolm Stead. In 2012, he took a job with Garth Partnership and moved to North East Scotland, mainly working with a large outdoor producer. Over the following years this client grew, increasing the herd size dramatically, whilst he also gained new clients in Scotland. In 2018, he moved back to Spain, but continued to work mainly in the UK.
“In a year when ordinarily any of the finalists could have been reasonably expected to win, Alistair’s nomination really stood out. The vet-farmer relationship is just so important now and that will remain the case into the future. In his nomination and interview Alistair demonstrated how he communicates with people at all levels on the farms he works with so as to facilitate continuous improvement across crucial areas such as health, welfare, antibiotic use and productivity. Growing up on a pig farm and having on-going European ties really has given Alistair great background knowledge and skills which he brings to bear in his daily work. A very worthy winner!”
Young Pig Farmer of the Year, James Innes, J C Innes & Sons
James Innes is a partner in the family business, which is based in Aberdeenshire. The farm works with arable, sheep, cattle and pigs. It has 750 sows and sell gilts to JSR and boars to finishing. He left school at 15 to join the family business and this year celebrates 23 years working in the business. A new piggery was recently built which is proving to give better results than the old piggery, and he said a lot of money has been invested in the new buildings. The business has also signed a five-year contract with JSR Genetics, which has secured the long-term future of the pigs.
“James travelled extensively to find ideas for development of his unit back at home and decided to take some risks and do things his way, including installing an automated piglet feeding system in the farrowing house and some elements of freedom farrowing. He is currently working towards further expansion in 2020. ”