Simon Watchorn FW Pig Farmer of Yr 2014

Norfolk producer Simon Watchorn, Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of Year 2014.

Congratulations to Simon Watchorn for being named Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year 2014.

His well managed, high performing 600-sow LandRoc herd at Park Farm near Bungay, impressed judges because it demonstrates just what can be achieved by optimising genetic potential through good management and attention to detail.

Simon’s no nonsense, evidenced-based approach to managing his herd, coupled with good communication and a progressive attitude to staff training and skills development, are key to this business’s success – a strategy the judging panel admired.

Judges said Simon was a very worthy winner, demonstrating top technical performance, great business acumen and dedication to the wider pig sector.

The Watchorn’s Freedom Food accredited pig business consistently achieves in excess of 25 pigs weaned per sow per year, which is well above the UK average for both outdoor and indoor herds. The progeny supply Park Farm’s pig rearing and finishing operation, with the bulk of production (85%) sold to Morrisons and the rest serving a number of independent outlets.

“We have a straightforward outdoor farm. No bells, no whistles – I’m just a commercial grower. But if you keep chipping away at the bottom end, you increase the average,” says Simon.

Dam line prolificacy potential and the herd’s 90% conception rate is integral to Park Farm’s breeding herd performance. Accessing the inherent genetic capabilities of its sows is achieved by using a strict and proactive replacement and culling policy, specific nutrition and expert husbandry, which is provided by the unit’s staff. The team’s meticulous record keeping is another vital element. This, combined with regular assessments and evaluation of herd data and statistics forms the basis of management decisions and it’s a winning formula.