Pig industry will get its very own training scheme

by 5m Editor
5 November 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Training geared to a pig unit's needs will improve conception rate, mortality, pigs-reared-per-sow and pigs-sold by around 12 percent, according to research.


National Pig Association

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers - fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

The problem is that we don't have a national training scheme that is indeed "geared to a unit's needs" - so consultant Gerry Brent has been working the National Proficiency Tests Council to produce one up from scratch.

Before the scheme is rolled out, he is keen for the industry at large to understand how it will work, and to offer comments.

When this has been done it is hoped that funding can be found to help all producers put their staff through the relevant sections… to get that 12 percent increase in productivity.

The new National Proficiency Tests Council Certificate of Competence suite of qualifications will have three levels:

  • Level one: Basic stockmanship and welfare
  • Level two: Conduct of operational skills
  • Level three: Pig unit supervision and operation
What follows is a brief explanation of how each of the three levels will work. Knowing that written work is not every employee's strong point, Gerry has been keen to keep it to a minimum, especially at levels one and two.

Level one: Basic Stockmanship and Welfare

A Certificate of Competence at this level will show the holder has the basic skills and abilities needed for working with pigs and understands how to care for the animals in a safe and humane manner.

Anyone who has been working with pigs for longer than six months and who does not intend to work towards the more advanced certificates should hold this certificate, which should satisfy the requirements of farm assurance schemes and Defra's Health and Welfare Strategy.

There are two component certificates at this level, both compulsory and both based on an assessment of the candidate's ability in the required areas. The only writing required would be to answer some multi-choice questions.

Level two: Conduct of Operational Skills

This level is aimed at providing recognition of the skills of employees who can operate largely unsupervised in the day-to-day life of a pig unit. There are a number of certificates, each of which can be gained as a stand-alone qualification. The certificates are:


  • Care and use of veterinary medicines
Breeding Herd Operations
  • Mating management and care of the boar
  • Dry sow and gilt operations
  • Indoor farrowing supervision or outdoor farrowing supervision
Weaner, Grower and Finishing Operations
  • Weaner and grower operations
  • Finishing pig operations
Associated Skills
  • Operation of controlled environment pig buildings
  • Tractor driving and related operations or forklift truck operations or ATV handling or plant machinery (skid-steer/powered vehicle) operations or spreading of farmyard manure and slurry.

Any of the certificates may be attempted individually. Those employees who wish to achieve their full Skills Level Certificate will need to gain at least four certificates of competence from the list above. They may add on additional certificates if they wish, as evidence of their wider capability and experience.

(For those who wish to achieve a full Skills Level Certificate, this may be achieved by passing assessment in at least four units which may comprise: Compulsory and no more than two from either Breeding Herd Operations and Weaner, Grower and Finishing Operations and no more than one from Associated Skills. It is possible to gain the full Skills Level Certificate without achieving a unit from Associated Skills.)

These certificates will based on an assessment of the employee in each area for no less than three months. Again not much written work is required.

Level three: Pig Supervision and Operation

This level is aimed at those who can exercise responsibility for sections of an enterprise or for the unit itself. Candidates will need the Skills Level Certificate (described above) which they will have achieved earlier or can take at the same time as the certificates described below.

The component certificates can be gained as stand-alone qualifications. Those wishing to gain an overall Certificate of Competence in Pig Unit Supervision and Operation will need at least five component certificates from this list:


  • Planning and supervising the safe use of veterinary medicines (this certificate may only be attempted by those who have already gained their Care and Use of Veterinary Medicines certificate).

  • Supervising pig welfare

Associated skills
  • Semen collection and processing
  • Interpretation of pig records
  • Control of pollution and farm waste
  • Feed storage, milling and mixing
  • Selection of stock for future breeding
  • Organisation of sales and purchases

As with level two certificates, a candidate's experience in each area entered for will be assessed for at least three months.

At this level, written evidence may be submitted, in certain cases, for consideration by the assessor. And as with the other levels it will be necessary for the candidate to demonstrate the ability to complete any such recording that is required to endorse his or her operational capability.

Any of the certificates may be attempted individually. Those who achieve a full Certificate in Pig Unit Supervision and Operation may add-on additional certificates as evidence of their wider capability and experience. There is no limit to the number of individual certificates held by a candidate.

For those who wish to hold a full Pig Unit Supervision and Operation certificate, the following are required:

  • Four certificates at the Skills level, which must include Care and Use of Veterinary Medicines.

  • Plus both Compulsory certificates at this level (Planning and Supervising the Safe Use of Veterinary Medicines and Supervising Pig Welfare) plus at least three certificates from Associated Skills.

Source: Digby Scott - National Pig Association - 5th November 2004

5m Editor