21 June 2018

Attractive package from start to finish – RF seeking commercial contractors

Healthy commercial weaners and good package. Rattlerow is keen to attract third-party finishers

Apart from pig breeding and genetic development, Rattlerow runs 4000 commercial sows and farms 2000 acres of arable land.

Rising productivity, a product of increased prolificacy in its breeding herd, improved health status and investment across it production systems, has swelled pig numbers coming forward and the company is currently producing some 3,000 bacon pigs a week. As a result, Rattlerow is eagerly seeking new third-party contractors to finish its commercial progeny.

“We are keen to secure more finishing places and have a good package to suit new entrants and existing producers. We provide the pigs, the feed, veterinary and management support; the contract farm provides the accommodation, labour, water and straw,” Robin Lawson explains.

Finishers on one of Rattlerow’s commercial contract production units

Brexit will undoubtedly create challenges for farm businesses going forward and as an integrated livestock/arable producer Rattlerow understands the uncertainties currently faced by many farms in the east of England. However, opportunities might open up for pig production companies as arable farms begin to diversify. Non-subsidised sectors, such as pig, poultry and egg production, have been predicted to ‘fair well’ post-Brexit, which might persuade some agricultural businesses to consider pigs as a viable diversification option.

“We want to encourage any potential new entrants and can offer contract partnerships that suit their needs and aspirations. We’re flexible, independent and have a wealth of experience to draw on. We can tailor a contract to fit in with an existing business or provide the support and technical expertise required to start up a new venture. And we have a good track record, too – those that have joined us, have stayed with us, which is a credible endorsement,” says Robin, confidently.



Standard aims

Where possible, Rattlerow aims to standardise its pig finishing operations. It has a preference for straw-based, batched, all-in, all-out systems that must comply with Red Tractor/RSPCA Freedom Food standards. Contractors can choose to take pigs from weaning at four weeks of age (7kgs) or from 25-30kgs live weight and rear them on through to slaughter at 110kgs.

Robin Lawson, RF General Manager.

“Our objective is to develop a long-term working partnership, one that benefits everyone involved and enables a farm enterprise to add value to its business and be rewarded.” – Robin Lawson


Premises that have livestock buildings can be an advantage. Any refurbishment advice can be supplied by Rattlerow fieldsman and/or one of the pig building design specialists that Rattlerow works closely with.

New-build projects are sought after too and most pig companies will offer a premium alongside the management fee to help offset any additional planning/capital costs involved when putting up a new building. Rattlerow offers similar incentives, which rewards producers for their investment and recognises the benefits to pig health and performance a new accommodation provides. Payback for a new, purpose built, straw-based rearing/finishing building is usually between 5 and 7 years, so economically it’s an attractive option for new entrants with suitable sites.

Individual contracts are drawn up in line with specific business requirements and are often adapted to match the skills, labour and resources available on a farm. Any training and technical support required is provided and new entrants are usually guided through their first few batches by Rattlerow fieldsman Keith Wiseman.

“There’s much more to our contract agreements than just supplying pigs and a payment for looking after them. Our objective is to develop a long-term working partnership, one that benefits everyone involved and enables a farm enterprise to add value to its business and be rewarded,” says Robin.




Talk to Robin Lawson.

Tel. 07799 552028 or email:


From an article first published in Anglia Farmer, Pigs Special, April 2018