Young Pig Farmer of the Year

Josh Brewster

Josh Brewster, North Farm Livestock

Josh Brewster, the Young Pig Farmer of the Year, works on one of North Farm Livestock’s outdoor breeding units in Norfolk, which produces free-range pigs for the Waitrose supply chain.

The business has 4,700 breeding sows and finishes all its own progeny, with all sites, both breeding and finishing, being outdoors.

Josh first went to North Farm Livestock on work experience from school and enjoyed the experience so he decided to seek a full-time position in 2016, just days before his 16th birthday. He has now been with the business for four years, working on its 1,200-sow breeding unit at Bayfield.

Josh said he is always willing to try new ideas and technologies. He is keen to bring his own ideas to the unit
and is prepared to challenge where appropriate.

He has been through AHDB Stockman and Stockman Plus courses and is on the AHDB Management Development course. Since joining the business, he has risen from apprentice and ‘newbie’ to unit lead, his current role.

This involves him leading the fourstrong team at Bayfield and being responsible for unit performance, reporting to the breeding manager. The herd was re-populated last summer and Josh has been a key player in bedding down the new herd and driving performance since then.

North Farm Livestock’s breeding operations of are expanding from three herds to five over a two-year timeframe and this has meant the need to recruit additional staff.

Trained staff are scarce in the area and, as a result, the business has recruited enthusiastic, but non-qualified staff and is training them itself.

A number of these recruits have been placed at Bayfield, with Josh taking a key role in their training and
development. He has approached this with real verve, leading where needed, maintaining high standards and showing a real passion for the sector. He said the recruits under him have settled quickly and are progressing well.

With nurturing new talent such a critical issue within the sector, Josh is seen as an asset to the business and to the wider pig industry.

On winning the award, he said: “It means a huge amount and recognises my journey from apprentice to running a breeding unit and the hard work I have put in along the way.

“I am focused on driving the performance of my unit to make it the best it can be. In the longer term, I would like to progress to being the leader/manager across multiple breeding units.

“Brexit, COVID-19 and African swine fever all present potential challenges to the sector and I am sure we will need to adapt to meet these in the future. Our business aims to remain at the forefront of animal welfare and sustainability with the intention of being well placed to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

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