National Pig Development Centre another jewel in Yorkshire's crown

UK - The opening last week at Leeds University of the new BPEX-funded National Pig Development Centre, a collaboration between Leeds and Newcastle Universities and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, was a further jewel in the crown for Yorkshire's pig industry.
calendar icon 13 October 2006
clock icon 5 minute read

Dr Sam Hoste, Quantech Solutions
reports from the opening of the new BPEX-funded National Pig Development Centre.

The centre will concentrate on research and development, knowledge transfer, facilitate communication between all members of the pig chain, and encourage and coordinate training programmes. It represents the dedication of the Co-Directors; Dr Helen Miller from Leeds University, Professor Sandra Edwards from Newcastle University and Professor Stan Done from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency. The centre will increase the on-farm investigative effort in the region with the identification of new problems and research into corrective measures.

Initial studies will look at the refurbishment of buildings with a view to quantifying the things that can be done and the costs incurred. Other identified areas for research include assessing the benefits of new sire lines, managing variation in meat quality and ways to reduce the seasonal effects on production. There will be close co-operation with the specialised pig veterinary practices, which operate nationally but are in fact based in Yorkshire. The centre is joining the existing pig food chain cluster within Yorkshire. With one third of the UK's sows is it a strategically important region for the pig industry.

Yorkshire is a thriving example of a regional food chain which stretches from consumer to the farmer and the many allied industries. Visitors to the region can enjoy a Deliciouslyorkshire breakfast with Yorkshire bacon and sausages. Consumers throughout the region can buy pork and bacon products from two of the regions' and UK's major retailers: ASDA and Morrisons. Morrisons sources considerable product from Yorkshire and ASDA is sponsoring the new industry training material that has been developed in conjunction with Bishop Burton College.

Yorkshire is also home to two of the UK's most successful processors: the Grampian Country Food Group and the Cranswick Food Group who both produce products for UK supermarkets. The Cranswick Food Group produce mouth watering gourmet sausages and the Duchy Originals brand. Both of these are major employers within the region and the Cranswick Food Group has been a local financial success story, seeing a 38% increase in its turnover in the last financial year.

From the Pennines across to the coastline Yorkshire pig farmers have been at the forefront of innovation and the region boasts a large number of truly leading producers who have worked hard to help the UK pig industry to recover from the troughs of Foot and Mouth, and low prices and set their sights on strategic long term goals. The industry has produced a research and development strategy and a new industry training programme to name but two of the initiatives. It is an industry that has really grasped the need to innovate and acted.

But this is not all. The region is also important to a number of major feed suppliers: ABNA, BOCMP Pauls, Cranswick and SCA who not only operate within the region and the UK but who also export feed throughout Europe. There are two major pig breeding companies based in East Yorkshire: ACMC and JSR who are at the frontier of pig genetics in producing breeding stock for farmers. These companies are global players with business in Europe, the Americas, Russia, Poland and Romania. Stock market listed animal breeding companies punch far above their weight in terms of R&D. On average their R&D spend as a percentage of sales in the DTI benchmark R&D Scorecard is 6% compared with 0.75% for other food producers. They rank 6th from the top in comparison with other UK sector averages: behind pharmaceuticals, aerospace, software and health but above IT hardware, banks, automobiles and electronics! Yorkshire not only represents a significant proportion of the UK pig industry it is also important for these hi-tech and "knowledge-based" companies that are important to the region.

Academically Yorkshire is important with two leading land based Colleges: Askham Bryan and Bishop Burton and the Universities in the region who have academics working on subjects with considerable relevance to pig science.

And so back to the Pig Development Centre: it is another link in a strong and vibrant knowledge based cluster that has vision to take the Yorkshire and UK pig industry forward. It is a welcome and exciting development for the region and UK pig farming.

ThePigSite News Desk

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