Posted 21 November 2019
"It’s absolutely fantastic to win and get great recognition at a national level. Winning is a real testament to the dedication and hard work of the team."
Harper Adams University has been named Producer of the Year at the National Pig Awards 2019. University livestock unit manager Richard Hooper and his team also won the award for Indoor Producer of the Year at the event held in London’s Lancaster Hotel.
On winning the ceremony’s two biggest prizes Richard said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to win and get great recognition at a national level. Winning is a real testament to the dedication and hard work of the team. It’s the biggest event in the pig industry every year so to come away with two top awards, it lets you know you’re doing good work. We will continue to deliver the highest quality teaching and research while reinvesting into our modern and efficient system.”
Harper’s pig unit operates as a standalone enterprise within the university. While maintaining a programme of reinvestment, Richard and the team impressed the judges by combining research in a number of areas that will benefit the wider industry with fantastic performance figures.
Head judge Stewart Houston said: “Despite the restrictions of a huge range of research projects and training significant numbers of students, Richard and his team sell almost 32 pigs per sow per year with top 10% growth rates and FCR, allowing the unit to make regular and substantial cash contributions to the University.”
In the last 12 months, the business has constructed a new fully slatted, fully environmentally controlled 800-place, two room, weaner building for pigs from weaning to 40kg. It is designed to have flexible pen sizes for research from six pigs/pen to 25 pigs/pen, to be labour efficient and to have the optimum environment for the pigs.
The unit now monitors piglet feeding behaviour through EID tags and readers in the farrowing area. The unit has actively been finding new outlets for its pork rather than relying solely on marketing to a large processor. The unit supplies all the pork for the kitchens at Harper, all the pork for a local award-winning butcher and also supplies a small processor.