Pig & Poultry Fair is a must for leading pig producers

Innovative thinking and technology are key elements behind successful pig businesses. Whether it’s inspirational advice that stays with you for a lifetime or cutting-edge equipment that boosts efficiencies, the UK’s top farmers all share that drive to succeed.

The biennial British Pig & Poultry Fair always attracts the best exhibitors and visitors, showcasing new products and inspirational thinking, and this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever.
With 10% more stands, there will be more than 350 exhibitors, as well as a brand new Innovation Trail featuring all the latest new ideas, products and services for producers to take home to their businesses. We find out what farmers will be looking for and the key influences in the year ahead.

1603-BPPF_2014_crowds>  Robert Lasseter – Dorset
Farrow to finish, 200 indoor Freedom Food sows
Will you be attending the 2016 Fair?
Yes, I hate missing it. It’s the first place I saw the 360 Farrowing Pen, and we’ve now got them on the farm. I always go round the poultry area – we’ve got a lot to learn from those guys.
What do you see as the biggest threats and opportunities?
All meat is losing market share to chicken; I don’t think it will get better until we come up with meal ranges that are quick and easy to compete better. We also need to spread the risk more evenly throughout the supply chain – we all need to make a margin 100% of the time and just need to be grown up about it.
What advice would you give to a new entrant?
Don’t give up on the pig industry, but go and work for someone else. If you’re determined to set up by yourself, make sure you’ve got a really good long-term market first.
What is your most useful piece of technology?
Undoubtedly our free farrowing accommodation – it’s transformed what we’re doing here.
What would you like invented?
An agreement to stop moving the goalposts on welfare standards – no-one has the confidence to invest in case the market is taken away.
Who do you find inspirational?
My farming hero has to be Adam Henson, because he’s doing so much to promote and change our industry.

1603-Andrew_Freemantle > Andrew Freemantle (above) – Devon
Farrow to finish, 350 sows
Will you be attending the 2016 Fair?
Yes – as an NPA producer group member I go to help out on the stand, but I would go anyway to catch up with friends and colleagues.
What do you see as the biggest threats and opportunities?
The biggest threat is imports – there are lots of UK-spec pigs being produced in Holland at 15-20p/kg less than here. As prices start to improve processors will offer fixed prices which will be a big help.
What advice would you give to a new entrant?
Make your farm as efficient as it can be and don’t spend time worrying about things you can’t control – concentrate on those you can.
Who do you find inspirational?
William Chase from Tyrrells crisps – in a relatively short time he turned a loss-making potato farm into a crisp manufacturing business that he sold for £30m. And he stood up to Tesco!
What are you planning for your next investment?
We’re building a new finishing unit, and on the wish-list is a camera that’ll “weigh” the pigs every day – it’s coming down in price!

> Robin Traquair (above) – Midlothian
Farrow to finish, 340 sows
Will you be attending the 2016 Fair?
Yes, it’s becoming a lot more international and I like to see the Danish and Dutch exhibitors.
How do you see the outlook for 2016?
The first half doesn’t look so good but I think that lack of supply will make the second half more positive.
What do you see as the biggest threat?
I think the biggest problem by a country mile is not being able to build new pig units – there’s just too much opposition.
What would you like invented?
A good adviser in this country who knows what’s happening elsewhere; we’ve got so much to catch up on.
What do you do when it comes to costings and how important is it?
I use Agrosoft and benchmark against farmers in the UK and in Denmark. The goalposts are moving very quickly, so we’ve got to keep pushing to improve growth rates.

> Gary Anderson – County Tyrone
Farrow to finish, 800 sows
What do you see as the biggest threats and opportunities?
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement will be a big threat, with the potential to bring in lower standard, cheaper imports. In terms of opportunities, it would be promoting the British brand for high welfare and taste.
What is your most useful piece of technology?
Our scanner and recording system, which means we can keep tabs on our sows and our costs.
What would you like invented?
CCTV cameras that could monitor pig health and behaviour and identify animals in need of attention.
What do you do when it comes to costings and how important is it?
We benchmark annually; it’s important to see where your costs and physical performance are in comparison with other farmers.

> Graham Shadrack (above) – Norfolk
Contract rearing and finishing up to 6,400 pigs
Will you be attending the 2016 Fair?
Most definitely, I go for the ideas and to meet like-minded people; it’s important to get out and hear what’s going on.
How do you see the outlook for 2016?
I’m very fortunate to have a contract – if I was on my own I’d be very nervous. There are so many external things affecting the industry that we can’t do anything about. There’s also a lot of meat being stored in Germany and The Netherlands – when that overspills it will end up here.
What advice would you give a new entrant?
Stick to your dreams – you’ve got to be single-minded.
Who do you find inspirational?
Dudley Bowes, who built the Bowes processing empire, blew me away. He was very practical with a wicked sense of humour, but could be absolutely ruthless in business.
What do you do when it comes to costings and how important is it?
It’s imperative. We keep track of monthly feed conversion ratios and benchmark against others. We’ve noticed that the FCR is always better in the winter so we’re putting fans into our buildings and will run an automatic ventilation system based on growth curves.

> Simon Watchorn (above) – Norfolk
Farrow to finish 15,500 outdoor Freedom Food pigs a year
Will you be attending the 2016 Fair?
Yes, I like to see what’s new and to meet people.
How do you see the outlook for 2016?
I think it’s going to be messy for a year. There’s too much product and not enough demand – hopefully the AHDB Pork campaign will stimulate demand, and supply will be cut back as people give up.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities?
It would be good if buyers would take heavier carcase weights, and we really need to get away from the arcane P2 way of buying pigs as the fat is cut off anyway. The Red Tractor and Freedom Food schemes differentiate our product and we need to hang onto them for dear life. We also need to be much more aggressive about supermarkets’ use of English names on foreign products – it’s a deliberate attempt to confuse the consumer.
Who do you find inspirational?
Robert Fisher, who co-founded IAG – I only met him once but he just spoke so much sense. The other man is my late father-in-law – he had a way of looking at problems that was way out of my league. He could have dropped into any business successfully.

The British Pig & Poultry Fair, partnered by ABN, will be held at the National Agricultural Exhibition Centre at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire on May 10/11, 2016. The ever popular and topical forum programme, with a focus on innovation and driving better performance, is a great chance to hear from industry experts.

“In a constantly changing global environment the whole supply chain needs to be working together to help to combat the market challenges that we face,” ABN commercial director Kevin Sketcher says. “We will showcase how working together can drive innovation in supply, nutrition and performance, ultimately protecting and enhancing farmers’ margins.”

Find out more and register for free entry to the fair at: www.pigandpoultry.org.uk

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