Pig industry’s future on tour in Yorkshire

Ed Barker is NPA’s senior policy advisor. He previously worked for rural business advisors Cheffins and Country and Business Association

The NPA’s Ed Barker and Rebecca Veale accompanied 32 members of the Young NPA on a trip to Yorkshire on June 24 and 25. Ed explains how the trip unfolded.

This year’s Young NPA group visit took place in God’s own county, Yorkshire, and took in a very busy, diverse and varied schedule.

We were pleasantly surprised by the turnout of 32 young producers and people from allied sectors, which speaks volumes about the strength of the Young NPA group and the next generation of the pig sector.

Our visit began right off the A1(M) at Spen Farm, near Tadcaster, to have a look round the University of Leeds’ soon-to-be-completed pig unit. The new project, backed by the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), includes the construction of pig accommodation buildings, the installation of a state-of-the-art feeding system, a slurry disposal system and an ancillary building for visitors and research teams. The investment will see an increase in sow numbers from 200 to 660, allowing for commercial scale research.

The group then made its way across the North York Moors, where we were welcomed by Robert Childerhouse and his team at the Mulgrave Estate at Lythe, near Whitby, with traditional Yorkshire rain and fog also to welcome us.

The Estate has around 15,000 acres, and oversees a mix of agricultural, residential and commercial property interests. We were given an overview of the estate, as well as the plans that Robert and the owners, the Marquis & Marchioness of Normanby, have in mind. After enjoying some pig-shaped baked goods (many thanks to the Estate chef!) we were given a tour of Mulgrave Castle, the private gardens, greenhouses and parks and were shown the new wild deer project.

We finished with an opulent cream tea using local produce. Then the 30 of us made our way into Whitby for fish and chips and a few drinks.

Day 2 saw us start the second half of our Mulgrave Estate visit. We visited one of its 50 tenant farmers, Chris Foster, who has recently taken on the day-to-day running of the dairy farm, which has 220 milking cows, 160 dairy heifers, 70 beef cattle and 40 acres of cereals.

Chris discussed issues such as herd health challenges, public perception of dairy and how he could apply his experiences outside the farm to his work now.

We then moved on to a less traditional tenant of the Estate, the Lickerish Tooth Gin Distillery, based in an old cow shed. The business cannot be accused of lacking originality; the distillery takes much of its inspiration from the Plague and historic medicinal practices, and the tasting session could have been mistaken for a séance.

The group finished its tour at Karro’s processing facility in Malton. We were given a full tour of the facility, from slaughter to, butchering, curing, processing and packing. We were shown the various product lines going to different export markets, including China, Australia and the USA.

For many, this was the first time going round an abattoir of this size, and it was notable how many staff were needed with pig handling and butchery skills in order to ensure throughput. It was hard not to discuss Brexit, given the concerning rhetoric over migration, and it was certainly one for us to think about afterwards.

The Young NPA National has been pencilled in for December in London. Anyone interested in joining the Young NPA should speak to me or Rebecca.

Thank you to our sponsors – Cargill, A-One and Quality Equipment – who made this fantastic trip possible.

“It was an excellent two days spent with, and making, friends, seeing different businesses, and viewing the pig industry from a different aspect.” Jon McKechnie, A-One feeds

“It is very encouraging to see so many YNPA members who already have a good knowledge of the pig industry who are keen to develop themselves further to be the future of the industry.” Jamie Baker, Quality Equipment

“We are incredibly fortunate to have a platform that allows us to come together as a group of like-minded individuals to understand aspects of the industry we are not necessarily exposed to.” Maisie Lord, Cargill

“Great networking and interesting visits. Gin was very good!” Robin Lawson

“Thanks NPA for a well organised and interesting tour of Yorkshire’s finest.” Sam Ward

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