Darren Kent of P Pitt Farms near Chelmsford, Essex was awarded Trainee of the Year, while Countess Wells Breeding from Framlingham, Suffolk won the award for herd productivity and its assistant manager James Brice was named stockman of the year.
Training and dedication brings year-on-year improvements
Trainee of the Year Darren Kent joined the Pitt’s family-owned farming business in 2012 from Writtle College. An enthusiastic stockman his employer Guy Pitt says he has much needed brought new energy to the pig unit and a zest for success and learning. Always keen to trying new ideas to boost performance, Darren‘s management and drive for improvement has increased herd conception rates, numbers born and numbers weaned per sow year-on-year since he joined the team. With a good work ethic and commitment to training and continual professional development Darren has completes Rattlerow’s farrowing and herd management course and both the BPEX/AHDB Stockman and Stockman-plus training programmes.
“The enthusiasm Darren has for all things is enlightening. He is always thinking about our progress and how we can improve to herd production in a cost effective, sensible manner – which is a rare attribute,” said Guy.
Attention to detail and pigs number proliferate
Winner of the herd productivity award, the 750-sow Countess Wells herd is a high production business. The closed farrow-to-finish farm achieves exceptional results through meticulous management and a drive to reduce loss and keep chasing genetic potential. It operates a three-week batch system with a key focus on proactive herd health, gilt rearing/management, service techniques and intensive care-style farrowing routines, which all help to maximise productivity.
This top 10% ranking herd (Agrosoft) achieves high numbers of pigs born alive and exceptional piglet survival rates, but says sustaining productivity and improving performance is a team effort and down to attention to detail at every level.
Gilt selection has had a major influence on herd productivity in recent years, thanks to an increased gilt pool and selection criteria focussed on producing 16-teat females.
Intensive attitude and a survival instinct
Stockman of the year James Brice has a passion for pig production. A graduate of Harper Adams University, he is now assistant manager and head of farrowing at Countess Wells Breeding where his efforts are helping to drive productivity and herd performance.
He says his ‘very full time’ job is demanding – he works more than 100 hours on farrowing week – but it’s extremely satisfying.
A skilled technician, the time, dedication and expertise he brings to CWBs farrowing department and neonatal care is immense, and it pays dividends. James has consistently proved that low birthweight piglets can thrive and survive given the right care and attention, and that these ‘little fellows’ can make a significant difference to the number of pigs sold per sow per year, which is where it matters.
“All of these awards reflect the significant value and importance that good stockmanship and on-going skills development has within a pig business…”
Robert Lawson, RF’s joint managing director said it was brilliant to hear three award winners had such strong Rattlerow connections.
“We are delighted that two of our multiplication herds have received awards and that the people who work hard to make these herds successful have been recognised by industry. All of these awards reflect the significant value and importance that good stockmanship and on-going skills development has within a pig business – something Rattlerow considers to be a priority,” he added.
And well done to ‘our’ winner too…
And, many congratulations to Kenniford Farm, too, winner of this year’s Producer Retailer of the Year Award, which is sponsored by Rattlerow. The 350-sow business produces more than 9,300 pigs a year, which are sold to processors, a wholesale butcher and through its own retail and catering business. Owned and managed by the Freemantle family, the business also runs four mobile catering units sited at Mole Valley Farmers’ stores selling its hog roast, bacon baps, pork burgers and sausages.
The awards ceremony was held at the Royal Garden Hotel Kensington, London, and were presented by MC for the evening by the ‘Voice of the balls’ Alan Dedicoat and each award sponsor.