On Thursday 5 May at the Roast restaurant, Borough Market in London, Writtle College’s pig unit received a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Pig & Poultry Marketing Awards for 2011.
The College pig unit based at Sturgeon’s Farm in Writtle, Essex has recently undergone a review and a series of changes, resulting in the unit this year being entered into the Training Initiative of the Year category at the Pig & Poultry awards.
Upon receiving the award Head of School for Sustainable Environments and Farm Director, Caroline Flanagan said: “We are proud of the progress we have made at the unit in the past year. There have been so many innovative ideas we have been able to incorporate into the unit, and subsequently a wide range of students at all levels are now gaining even more from their time spent in the pig unit.”
It was during 2010 that Writtle College invested considerably in their (previously de-stocked) pig unit at Sturgeons Farm. The unit has been re-positioned to play a pivotal role in the education of a very wide range of students. Regular ‘users’ include those with special educational needs, Writtle’s own Further and Higher Education students, visiting industry representatives and individuals undertaking postgraduate research.
When talking about the changes introduced at the pig unit Caroline went on to say: “Meeting the requirements of all stakeholders has proved challenging, but the busy 84-sow batch-farrowing unit, complete with new electronic sow feeders, is now providing consistent numbers of pigs for student, staff and industry-led ‘near market’ research projects as well as practical competence training for a wide range of individuals.”
Andrew Carter, the new Unit Manager and Senior Lecturer at Writtle College led the review of the old pig unit system, with the review resulting in students being made aware of not just the day-to-day management techniques, but innovative practices and the importance of the consideration of an end market; enabling a growing number of pigs to now be sold privately direct to the consumer.
The College now utilises management and financial data to demonstrate to students the requirement for a modern day producer to understand every aspect of the production system - all the way to the dinner plate - ensuring that the business is sustainable.