Staffs pig farmer gets Nuffield backing for ambitious project

Staffordshire free range pig producer, Robert Mercer, will undertake a Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2016, studying how to develop and add value to a pig business whilst contributing to society.

One of 18 newly announced scholars, Mr Mercer runs Packington Pork and Packington Free Range for his family’s Mercer Farming business, located near Burton on Trent.

Already committed to rearing pigs “without additives, growth promoters or antibiotics, using the best genetics knowledge and superior quality feed to get results”, the new scholar (pictured above) has set himself a challenging Nuffield target.

“I want to look at how to expand business whilst still maintaining good control and margins,” he said, adding that this will include examining systems which can be used to aid expansion, such as share farming, contract breeders, how to maximise the potential of a growing work force and how to motivate staff to the maximum.

“I will also look into the possible implementation of technology to help monitor farms while studying systems and protocols used by business owners to ensure a business is performing as it should.”

In seeking to add value to the business, he will also focus on how to increase margins on his current volume. That will include examining feed milling, transport, breeding gilt replacements, slaughtering, processing and retailing.

Mr Mercer’s Nuffield submission also featured a point about “contributing to society aims”.

“I want to look at how a business can be both profitable and expanding, whilst also playing a significant role in charitable functions,” he said. “Ideally I would like to investigate how a business can leverage contributions to good causes by using their own expertise and infrastructure.

“Simply, I am looking to go away and to immerse myself in some great businesses, and meet some forward thinking people, to learn from the experience and to come back and implement a growth plan in my business, which will also contribute to the industry.

“I also want to do that in conjunction with being a responsible business which is putting a lot back into society.”

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