All-change Ahead for UK Pig Industry, Says Award Winner

UK - A revolution in performance is going to hit the pig industry over the next decade, according to pig veterinarian, Pete Bown. He received this year’s David Black Award at an award ceremony in London today, 6 November. Senior editor, Jackie Linden, reports.
calendar icon 6 November 2013
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Vet Pete Bown has worked as a consultant to one of the major breeding firms and said: “The genetic improvements in the pipeline are mind-blowing.

“It will give our producers a fantastic opportunity to sell a quality product with a very good cost of production provided they pay attention to herd health.”

Pete Bown, winner of the David Black Award 2013

Mr Bown, who is married with two sons, received his award at an industry breakfast held in the House of Lords in London on 6 November. He is pictured above (on the left), receiving the award from Farming Minister, George Eustice.

Looking back on his 45 years in practice, Mr Bown said: “When I started, disease was easy to manage, then we had a very dark period with Classical Swine Fever, Foot and Mouth and PMWS.

“Now we have much healthier pigs and, provided we remain vigilant, I think the industry has huge opportunities.”

When he started with what has become the George vet group, he was the fourth vet in the practice and they had one pig client. The group now employs more than 30 vets with six pig specialists.

He qualified in Glasgow in 1968, then worked as a locum for a few vets before moving down to Malmesbury in Wiltshire for a year before returning to do a PhD. That PhD did not work out so he stayed.

He said: “I became interested in population medicine so that meant it was either pigs or chickens and pigs had always fascinated me.”

"Now we have much healthier pigs and, provided we remain vigilant, I think the industry has huge opportunities."
Pete Bown

Away from farms, Mr Bown was on the professional after-dinner speaking circuit for 20 years so ended up being employed to give presentations on behalf of animal health companies all over the world.

On being told he was the winner of this year’s David Black Award, he said: “I was in the garden when my wife told me Mick Sloyan was on the phone. I thought to myself he must want me to sit on another committee.

“When he told me I had won the award I was totally stunned.”

At the same event, a Sausage Oscar was presented to Peter Allen on behalf of butchers, Aubrey Allen, for their contribution to promoting one of the country’s gastronomic icons.

The firm was founded 80 years ago and this year was granted a Royal Warrant by The Queen. The firm has won many awards, most recently 1st prize in the Healthy Sausage Category at the BPEX Foodservice Pork Sausage of the Year competition.

The award was presented to company chairman, Peter Allen, by BPEX Director, Mick Sloyan.

The previous day, 5 November, Tony Wright was announced as the winner of the BPEX 2013 Trainee of the Year Award. This inspirational pig manager works at Shedden Farms in North Yorkshire. Earlier this year, he received a special Student of the Year Award on graduating from the BPEX Professional Manager’s Development Scheme.

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