Breeders David and Sue Morgan of Pockthorpe near Driffield have been named Farmers Weekly Pig Farmer of the Year at a glittering ceremony held at the Grosvenor Hotel in London’s Park Lane.
The couple, who manage a herd of 1700 breeding sows, have been customers of JSR for over 10 years and are currently using the company’s Genepacker 90 gilts and Geneconverter 800 boars, as well as JSRs renowned AI services.
The Morgan’s share a passion for innovation, business development and pig production and are joined in their venture by their three daughters, Vicky, Kate and Rachel, all of whom take an active role in the business, with Kate recently embarking on a Nuffield Scholarship on high-welfare production systems.
Kate has recently returned from a trip to Sweden with JSR to investigate high-welfare systems and will soon be embarking on a visit to China, again with help from JSR.
The family began their pig breeding business with no knowledge of the industry and just 20ha. They quickly familiarised themselves with production practices – learning from others and investigating systems in Denmark and Sweden. Their tenacity paid off and the Morgans’ enterprise is currently a Sainsbury’s Concept Farm and they also work closely with Cranswick Country Foods.
According to Dr Zoe Davis of the NPA, the Morgans embody just what the Farmers Weekly Awards are all about.
She said: ““The Morgans epitomise the very core of the Farmers Weekly Awards. Hard-working and dedicated, they have taken every opportunity to innovate, and have nurtured a unique relationship with the retail sector. They are a great credit to agriculture and an asset to the pig industry.”
Welfare is absolutely key to the business and David Morgan sees freedom farrowing as the future of the industry. One of his biggest challenges so far has been to develop a new farrowing crate that allows more movement, without compromising pig safety. He maintains that freedom farrowing has made the team better stockmen as it forces them to focus on the finer details of the operation.
With so little land of their own the Morgans rely heavily on other farmers for their straw and as efficiency is crucial David established his own feed mill to produce finisher diets and reduce costs. It’s currently run by two full-time members of staff and is already paying for itself. Other investments include wind turbines, solar panels and the purchase of an arable farm.