'Pig Academy' to Educate Future Pork Producers

UK - Potential pork producers are to head back to school with the county's first "pig academy" at the University of Lincoln.
calendar icon 11 January 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

The Fresh Start Academy, which is to run as a pilot scheme at the university's Riseholme College, is designed for anyone interested in entering the industry, be they from an agricultural background, or looking for a career change.

The scheme could then be rolled out across the country, reports This is Lincolnshire.

One of the instigators of the project, pork firm director Howard Revell, said Lincolnshire had been chosen because the area had a number of natural and commercial advantages including a plentiful supply of straw, arable land on which to spread pig waster, several modern slaughterhouses and workers with some residual animal-related skills.

He said: "The academy will enable potential new entrants to gather information so they can make a balanced judgement about the potential pig farming may hold for them.

"Key elements of the programme will be days in which we show them supply chains from farm to retailer but we will also deal, through specialist speakers, with everything from risk management to business planning, feed and animal health, market opportunities and environmental responsibilities.

"Of course we can't deal with everything involved with pigs in such a short period, but we believe we can address the key issues in such a way that a potential entrant is better equipped to make a judgement on such a key business decision."

The course, which will run fortnightly for six months, starts on 24 January next year – and for those who complete it and go on to set up a pig farm, they will have an immediate market for their produce through supermarket Waitrose.

Denis Chamberlain, chairman of the National Fresh Start Stakeholder Group, welcomed the scheme.

"The pig academy is an excellent next step, encouraging new entrants to assess an area where there is the potential to develop businesses in a sector where demand is currently very strong and viable business models are there to be exploited," he said.

Academy co-ordinator Sophie Hope said five potential students had already shown interest in becoming pig farmers.

"At the moment we hope to keep the cost at 350 for the entire course, which isn't too bad when you break it down over six months," she said.

"And we hope if this is successful in Lincolnshire then we can role it out throughout the country."

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Pig School Academy report on the BBC News
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