Young NPA take a trip to God's own county
1st Jul 2019 / By Ed Barker
NPA senior policy advisor Ed Barker outlines what happened when 32 members of the Young NPA embarked on a trip to Yorkshire last week.
This year’s Young NPA group visit took place in God’s own county, Yorkshire, and saw a very busy, diverse and varied schedule for all the members who attended. We were very pleasantly surprised by the turnout of 32 young producers and people from allied sectors, which speaks volumes about the strength of the Young NPA group and of the next generation of the pig sector.
Leeds University's new pig unit
Our visit began on June right off the A1(M) at Spen Farm, near Tadcaster, to have a look round the soon-to-be-completed pig unit owned by the University of Leeds.
The new project, backed by the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), includes the construction of a number of pig accommodation buildings, the installation of a state-of-the-art feeding system, a slurry disposal system and the construction of an ancillary building for visitors and research teams.
The investment will see an increase in the number of sows from 200 to 660, with 220 of these sows housed outdoors – allowing for larger sample sizes and commercial scale research.
Other investments include a CCTV network to constantly monitor the pig herd, new equipment to automatically feed and monitor consumption, on-site teaching centres and on-site laboratories to complement high-spec campus labs and flexible penning in the farrowing unit.
The Mulgrave Estate
After this visit, the group moved its way across the North York Moors, where we were welcomed by Robert Childerhouse and his team at the Mulgrave Estate at Lythe, near Whitby, with tradional Yorkshire rain and fog also to welcome us.
The Estate has around 15,000 acres, and oversees a mix of agricultural, residential and commercial property interests. The group were given an overview of the activities of the Estate, as well as the future plans that Robert and the owners, the Marquis & Marchioness of Normanby, have in mind.
After having finished some pig shaped baked goods (many thanks to the Estate chef!) we were given a tour of Mulgrave Castle, the private gardens, greenhouses and parks and were shown the new wild deer project. Wild deer have recently been brought onto the Estate, with a view to building up the herd to 500 over the next few years.
The venison is sold through Dovecote Park, and had an interesting chat with the staff on site about how this will be managed. We finished with an opulent cream tea using local produce and then the 30 of us made our way into Whitby for traditional fish and chips and a few drinks in the evening.
Day 2 - in the rain again
Day 2 saw us start the second half of our Mulgrave Estate visit. We began, in the rain again, by visiting one of the Estate’s fifty tenant farmers, Chris Foster. Chris and has father have been a long running tenants at the farm, and Chris has recently taken on the day to day running of the dairy farm which has around 220 milking cows, 160 dairy heifers, 70 beef cattle and 40 acres of cereals.
They breed pedigree Holstein cattle which calve in autumn and have elite accredited health status. Any excess livestock are sold on to farmers as breeding cattle. The group talked to Chris about taking on the business and discussed issues such as herd health challenges, public perception of dairy and his experiences outside of the farm, and how he could apply that to his work now.
Of interest was the way in which the Estate and Chris work together as tenant and landlord, to complement one another’s businesses; the Estate has helped Chris with planning permissions from the Park Authority, whilst Chris’ new Belted Galloways will be grazing off the Estate’s moorland areas for its conservation requirements.
The Lickerish Tooth Gin Distillery
The group then moved on to a less traditional tenant of the Estate. The Lickerish Tooth Gin Distillery is based in one of the Estate’s old cow sheds, and has established itself as producer of fine gins and spirits in the region.
The group chatted with the owners of the Distillery, and discussed how they are able to compete in a very saturated market whilst still taking the time to enjoy what they do.
The businesses cannot be accused of lacking originality; the distillery takes much of its inspiration from the Plague and historic medicinal practices, and the tasting session could have been mistaken for a séance.
It was very interesting how branding, in whatever form, was the only way they could compete, and not just with a good product to sell.
After having wished Robert a sincere thank you for organising a great trip around Whitby for us, the group finished its tour at Karro’s processing facility in Malton. We were given a full tour of the facility, from slaughter to, butchering, curing, processing and packing.
We were shown the various product lines going to different export markets, including China, Australia and the USA. For many, this was the first time going round an abattoir of this size, and the group noted how many staff were needed with pig handling and butchery skills in order to ensure throughput. It was hard not to discuss Brexit given the concerning rhetoric over migration, and it was certainly one for us to think about afterwards.
Young NPA National
The Young NPA National has been pencilled in for December in London, and anyone who is interested in joining the Young NPA should speak to me or Rebecca Veale.
The group is there not just to further knowledge of the pig and other sectors, but also as a way of meeting other younger people in the pig industry and having a social side of things too. At 30+ attendees, this trip bodes well for the future and the NPA has a number of other events lined up for this year and into 2020.
And, finally, a very big thank to our sponsors - Cargill, A-One and Quality Equipment – who made this fantastic trip possible.
'A varied and insightful trip' - what the group thought about the visit
"Many thanks to the NPA for organising such a varied and insightful trip. We are incredibly fortunate to have a platform that allows us to come together as a group of like minded individuals to understand aspects of the industry we are not necessarily exposed to on a day -to- day basis."
Maisie Lord, Cargill
“It is very encouraging to see so many YNPA members who already have a good knowledge of the pig industry who are keen to develop themselves further to be the future of the industry.”
Jamie Baker, Quality Equipment
"It was an excellent two days spent with and making friends, seeing different businesses and viewing the pig industry from a different aspect. A good job done by Ed and the NPA team in setting up a well thought through trip."
Jon McKechnie, A-One feeds
"Great to see innovation and research facilities in progress at Leeds. Well organised and excellent hospitality and tour of the Mulgrave Estate and opportunity to visit the dairy unit."
Fantastic opportunity to see the deer park which you wouldn’t normally get the chance to see. And about everything involved from why they chose the stock they have to the culling process.
"A very interesting and varied trip gaining an insight into different businesses and their future plans. Well organised two days. Thank you NPA!"
"Great to see into another business and their view on how to future proof in changing times, looking to diversify and secure income through various enterprises. Very impressive buildings at Leeds University, it will be interesting to see once it is up and running with pigs."