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Why should you enter the 2020 National Pig Awards?

Afbeelding: Producer of the Year-2019 small

Now in its seventh year, ForFarmers is delighted to once again be supporting the National Pig Awards as a principal sponsor. The annual event celebrates the very best of the British Pig Industry and brings together those who make significant contributions.

Ahead of the closing date for this year’s National Pig Awards nominations, ForFarmers Harper Adams University Placement Student, Emily Morgan, caught up with last year’s overall ‘Producer of the Year’ award winner to find out more about why they were awarded the accolade and why others should get involved too!

“The 2019 National Pig Awards saw the Harper Adams University Pig Unit walk away with indoor, and overall producer of the year” comments Emily. “ForFarmers has worked with the university for a number of years, offering a scholarship placement through the AHDB Pork Scholarship scheme, giving students  the opportunity to gain quality work experience in the ForFarmers Pig Team in their year-long placement. I (remotely) caught up with Alan, Richard and Sarah from the universities award winning pig unit to find out about the fantastic contribution the university, and pig unit make to the British pig industry.”

Tell me a bit about the unit?

The unit was established in 1999, originally as a teaching and research facility with the objective of demonstrating best practice and innovation. In addition to this it’s also run as a standalone business unit with fully costed business plans and investment based on returns. 

The unit now stands at over 200 sows with the capacity to farrow 32 sows per batch, finishing pigs to 107 kg at approximately 151 days of age. The unit hosts trials, so almost all our pigs are part of trials at some point with a continuous flow of nutritional trials at all stages.  Other research includes breed evaluation, system development and environmental management. Over the years novel innovations have included sow operated stalls, milk line, robotic pressure washer, Nooyan and side opening farrowing crates.  Recently as a research tool we have installed automatic feed recording kit for piglets which is shedding light on exactly what does happen with large litters in lactation.   

Q. What involvement do students have with the unit?

A. Our students get to experience the unit as a demonstration in tutorials and skills modules. The good news is we seem to have increasing number of students that choose pig related final year projects so they get involved in trial design, data collection and analysis at the unit, which we can accommodate through the ongoing research and trials. Student interest and involvement has also increased with the advent of the scholarship scheme, which is fantastic to see.

Q. How did you come to enter the National Pig Awards and why do you think you did so well?

A. We nominated ourselves after a lot of encouragement from other Industry members!

I think that what impressed the judges was that we have been able to maintain a commercial, robust unit with consistently high health and performance, while delivering investment in innovation and demonstrating best practice to the next generation.

Q. What does winning Overall producer of the year mean to you?

A. It provides recognition of what we have achieved over the years, it makes it feel even more worthwhile when someone else recognises and rewards all your hard work. It has also given us the opportunity to inspire others to take a look at the pig industry.

Q. Has anything changed since winning producer of the year?

A. I think that it has enhanced our profile and it has certainly made the students aware that the unit is something they need to take note of rather than just something that the old pig lecturer rants on about!

Q. What would you say to another producer thinking about entering the National Pig Awards?

A. It is definitely worth considering! Even if you aren’t a winner the awards are a really enjoyable evening and provide fantastic networking opportunities with likeminded people. You may even walk away with an award which is a huge achievement for your business.

Q. And lastly, what are you looking at for the future?

 A. We have plans to increase the batch capacity of the finishing section and are also in the 20 year service mode with some fairly major refurbishments.  This gives us the opportunity to update, innovate and provide staff and students with interesting projects.  

 

If you are thinking about entering, or nominating someone else in the 2020 National Pig Awards, then be quick! Entries close this Friday, the 26th of June. To find out more about the categories and judging criteria, visit www.nationalpigawards.co.uk