Harper Adams University picks up top honour at National Pig Awards

Harper Adams University has been named overall Producer of the Year at the 2019 National Pig Awards.

The Shropshire-based university’s 230-sow indoor farrow-to-finish unit also won the Indoor Producer of the Year award. It picked up the night’s top award after going head-to-head with the Outdoor Producer of the Year, Wayland Farms.

Livestock unit manager Richard Hooper was handed the award by comedian Marcus Brigstocke at a ceremony at London’s Lancaster Hotel on Monday night (November 18).

The event, organised by Pig World, was attended by 430 people, a new record in its six-year history.

A total of 15 National Pig Awards were handed out on the night, as well the NPA’s Chris Brant Award and the David Black Award.

Harper’s pig unit, a standalone enterprise within the university that has maintained a programme of reinvestment, impressed the judges by combining research in a number of areas that will benefit the wider industry with fantastic performance figures.

Head judge Stewart Houston said Richard and his small team have supported the industry in many ways for years. He added: “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 to make regular and substantial cash contributions to the University.”

The other winners on the night were:
Outdoor producer of the Year – Wayland Farms
Wayland is a large-scale producer, based in Norfolk, operating a high health status herd of 10,000 outdoor sows and gilts. The company prides itself on its high welfare, health and hygiene standards and has taken an industry-leading approach to reducing antibiotic use.

Finisher of the Year – William de Feyter
William 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, alocal piggery from a neighbour of 800 places.

Young Pig Farmer of the Year – James Innes
James is a partner in the family business, based in Aberdeenshire. The farm restocked a year ago and a new piggery was recently built, which is delivering improved results.

Trainee of the Year – Oliver Havers
Oliver joined the BQP Growing Team in December 2017. He has completed an Advanced Technical Diploma in Agriculture Course at Easton and Otley College and is currently completing a Level 4 Agricultural Business Management course with Shuttleworth College.

Herd Productivity Award – Paul Hume
Paul and his team run a 950-sow outdoor breeding unit in Norfolk. Key production figures include an average of 29.7 pigs/sow/year with a farrowing rate of 95.2% and 12.2 pigs weaned/litter.

Marketing Initiative of the Year – Dingley Dell Pork
Suffolk-based Mark & Paul Hayward runDingley Dell Pork, is, in its own words, ‘totally focused as a business on taste’. The farrow-to-finish farm has 900 outdoor sows, with a big focus on welfare and the environment. The business uses US technology to measure and select for IMF or marbling in the breeding herd. As a result, it is increasing marbling by 15% year on year in its sire lines.

Innovation of the Year – Bridge House Farm
Northamptonshire-based Bridge House Farm is a 650-sow indoor fully-slatted farrow-to-finish Genesus unit. All pigs are individually identified using a bespoke UHF RFID system (EID). Pigs are weighed at birth, weaning and finishing using the system, allowing accurate mapping of data and pig performance to enhance genetic selection.

Stockman of the Year – Jess Graves
Jess, the 2016 Trainee of the Year, is farrowing/weaner manager at Grove Farm a 700-sow farrow-to-finish business in York. Her enthusiasm and ‘can do’ approach has helped generate a positive attitude within the team.

Unit Manager of the Year – Ben Brown
Ben is unit manager of South Repps Farm, a 1,200-gilt agistor breeding unit, owned by Norfolk Free Range. He is a hands-on manager who leads from the front and doesn’t expect anyone to do a job that he can’t and won’t do.

Young Farm Vet of the Year – Alasdair MacLeod
Alasdair qualified in 2010, and works for the Garth Pig Practice in East Yorkshire. He qualifiedfrom Universidad Cardenal Herrera in Valencia, Spain, having also spent an Erasmus year of his studies at Universidade Tecnica de Lisboa in Portugal.

Pedigree Breeder of the Year – Fairoaks Pedigree Pigs
Christopher Impey owns Fairoaks Pedigree Pigs in Mid-Glamorgan, where he keeps a small herd of pedigree Berkshire pigs. He exports pedigree pigs all across the world, including Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Italy and Sweden.

Special Achievement Award – Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is the owner of Derbyshire-based Moss Valley Fine Meats. He has a long-term commitment to reducing the units usage of antibiotics, which has included high biosecurity, vaccination, feed, cleanliness and disinfection of acidified water.

NPA Allied Industry Member of the Year – MS Schippers
The Dutch company has been supplying livestock farmers for 50 years. 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.

Also handed out on the night…
The David Black Award, handed out for the first time at the event, was won by NPA chairman Richard Lister.

The winner of the NPA’s Chris Brant Award was Colin Stone, breeding farms manager at Wayland Farms, and winner of the 2018 Special Achievement Award.

Pig World publisher Simon Lewis said: “Congratulations to Harper Adams University who were deserved winners on the night. Once again these awards have highlighted the breadth and depth of talent, drive and ambition in the pig sector and is a pleasure to recognise the winners, but also all of those shortlisted, which, in itself, is a great achievement.”

Head judge Stewart Houston added: “As always, every category posed some real dilemmas for the judges, such was the excellence of all the entries. But congratulations to all the winners, who each managed to demonstrate something different and special about their businesses.”

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