'Pigs are firmly in my roots'
2nd Jul 2019 / By Chloe Gimson
Young NPA member Chloe Gimson (front row, blue jacket, pink trousers in picture below) explains why she has stuck with pigs - and gives her take on last week's trip to Yorkshire.
Having been brought up on a 1200-sow outdoor breeding sow unit, A&S Gimson Limited, in East Anglia, I was ready to study Agriculture at Harper Adams University and explore the wider opportunities within the industry.
I decided I would try a new sector during my placement year and I am just finishing my year within the technical team at a poultry company. However, it has made me realise that pigs are firmly in my roots and I have been drawn straight back to the pig industry.
Being a Young NPA member has really shown me what the British pig industry offers and so far it has given me an amazing opportunity to network with other producers as well as representatives from allied industries.
Our first stop on our summer trip to Yorkshire (you wouldn’t have guessed it with the wet weather!) was at the new indoor pig research facility at Leeds University. This purpose built facility will house 440 indoor sows once finished taking piglets from birth through to slaughter.
It was interesting to have a tour around a farm that is yet to be finished and some of the designs were certainly a talking point. A lot of thought had gone into the build from the type of farrowing crate used to the feeding systems. This facility, once open, will be able to provide state of the art research conducting trials along with the existing 220 sow outdoor unit.
Following our trip to Leeds, we visited Mulgrave Estate which is a privately owned estate with approximately 15,000 acres including coastline. Special mention must go to the amazing cakes, pig shaped biscuits and scones that were made especially for us.
The flowers from the beautiful gardens are managed by a team of three gardeners who send cut flowers, fruit and vegetables to The Marquis and Marchioness of Normandy in London every week. We were shocked to hear it costs £25,000 to paint the glass house every four to five years and a bunch of grapes on the estate is worth £50!
A new addition to the estate is the deer enterprise. The deer are classed as wild although they are kept in a large fenced area. The deer are shot onsite and the wildlife manager has to shoot approximately 30 deer in three days during peak season to be delivered to Dovecote Park for processing. Although it was misty, we all saw some brilliant views of the deer roaming the estate. It was fascinating to learn about how deer are farmed.
After a long day we all headed out for dinner and drinks in Whitby. It wouldn’t be a Young NPA event without this social element and it is another great way of meeting new people within the industry.
The next day, we visited two businesses that are tenants of Mulgrave Estate. The first business is a 220 cow dairy farm, now in its fourth generation. Recently, the farm has invested in a new milking parlour which has reduced the milking time from five hours to two.
Following the dairy tour we visited a tiny gin distillery in Egton which markets itself as ‘Definitely Different’. The barn is rented from Mulgrave Estate and has been converted into a distillery producing 4 different types of gin in small batches. A short tour was followed by a gin tasting session and the opportunity to buy a bottle. Each bottle is hand finished with a wax seal and stamped with their logo making each bottle unique.
The trip finished with a tour around the Karro pig processing plant in Moulton. Personally, I have never visited an abattoir, just a cutting plant, so I found the whole process fascinating. I was impressed with how calm the pigs were before being slaughtered and the attention to detail to ensure animal welfare was of the highest standard.
I would like to thank all the companies that sponsored the trip and NPA for the brilliant organisation. The trip was excellent because we visited businesses in the pig industry and beyond.
Although I am in my early stages of my career, the trip enables people in all stages of their career to discuss ideas, meet like-minded people and open up new opportunities. I would highly recommend joining Young NPA; you will not be disappointed.