By Stephen Evans
I am from Fintona and went to school at Fivemiletown College. Although not coming from a farming background, I developed an early keen interest in agri-
culture working on local dairy and beef farms. I entered Harper Adams Uni-versity in 2019 to study for a BSc (Honours) Agriculture, leaving my options open for the future.
My interest and later passion for the pig industry started in 2020 when I undertook a summer placement with SM Pigs Ltd in Strabane. After completing my placement and on my return to Harper I successfully applied for the Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board Pig In-
dustry Scholarship sponsor-ed by ForFarmers. This is the UK’s major pig industry scholarship offered at Harper Adams.
I joined ForFarmers in Aug-
ust 2021 as a Sales Dev-elopment Student based in Suffolk. Older readers may recognise the origins of the company in the UK as being BOCM, Silcock.
ForFarmers is a Total Feeds
Solutions provider, operat-
ing across Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland. The
company innovates, manu-factures and delivers feed for dairy, beef, sheep, pig, poultry and game sectors. ForFarmers’ commitment is ‘For the Future of Farming’, which ensures all its plans are made with a long term outlook in support of sus-tainable farming.
Since joining the company I have been given the opportunity to experience all areas of the business.
The business is divided into four team areas, the Young Animal Feed (YAF) team, and the technical, marketing and supply chain teams.
I have been attached mainly
to the Young Animal Feed team but have worked along-side the other teams. By working alongside these other
teams I have gained an insight into how they interact to give their customers the best possible experience.
Each of these teams have provided me with a true insight to the industry and
how ForFarmers as a com-pany work together with their customers to provide consistent high quality pro-ducts and services.
ForFarmers has provided me with additional opportunities over the last 12 months, from being able to attend the National Pig Awards Dinner in London in November to attending the Pig and Poultry Fair in Stoneleigh in May. These events allowed me to see the industry from all perspectives and absorb the knowledge of those who are in it. I even had the chance to meet with my old boss Raymond Bradford from SM Pigs Ltd in Strabane.
From working closely with the YAF team at ForFarmers I have taken a keen interest in the starter feed division of the pig business.
It is here I believe that the most crucial part of a pig’s life is feeding the correct nutrients and vitamins to stimulate its immune system stabilisation as it grows. This is becoming quite the challenge for the industry as Zinc Oxide is removed from diets.
Over the last 13 months on placement with the ForFarmers pig team I have realised that the current state of the UK pig industry is something that can only be described as a ‘catastrophic disaster’ compared to where the industry was when I was enthused initially about a career in the industry in 2020.
It is evident from the increases of raw materials and energy costs and labour shortages over the last 13 months that the industry is unfortunately on a downward turn. Even with the recent increase in pig prices to a level that hasn’t been seen in decades, it still isn’t enough for the UK pig farmer to break even.
AHDB noted in June that the cost of production was
estimated at 240p/kg dead-weight. With recent literature also published by AHDB noting that demand for pork within the UK is set to decrease, the expectation is of a reduction of the UK herd. A six per cent fall in production is expected.
The industry can only hope to see a glimmer of light as we move towards the end of what can be noted as a dark year in the industry.
However, from what the industry has had to endure over the last period I believe that the industry as a whole is nothing but resilient. This resilience, I believe, is the key attraction for me to consider a career in the industry. Even though we have wit-nessed long established pig
producers leaving the in-dustry, it is evident that the sector will survive what is its worst downturn in recent years and will rebound as a consolidated and prosperous industry.
A prosperous industry needs qualified and en-thusiastic newcomers.
New entrant graduates in particular must be willing to adapt to the changing demands of customers.
The AHDB Pig Scholarship programme is an excellent way to encourage students to gain experience within the UK pig industry and provide an insight into the range of career opportunities that the pig industry offers.
I am glad that I got my first insight into the industry and enthusiasm for the industry with SM Pigs in Strabane, became an enthusiast for the pig industry and was awarded the top UK pig industry scholarships to work
with ForFarmers. I have accepted the offer of a job on graduation to become a ForFarmers UK Young Animal Feeds Specialist.
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