CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN THE
ALLIED TRADES AND PROFESSIONS
FIND A MENTOR
The United Kingdom pig industry has seen radical changes over recent years. Breeding companies have had to adjust to the change in demand for breeding stock as small-scale pig farmers have succumbed to economic pressures and have been replaced by large-scale pig producers who focus heavily on reducing the cost of pig production.
Today's breeding companies have developed their portfolios to match the demand for animals that grow quickly, but eat less feed to reach their target slaughter weights. The pork supply chain now has a far greater influence in pork production and breeding companies work very closely with the supply chain to increase the demand for British pork.
Due to the decline in the United Kingdom pig industry, breeding companies look towards international markets for growth. Career opportunities cover a wide variety of roles, from the hands-on pig stockperson to an international sales person travelling across the globe to secure long -term market share.
Today companies run Pig Apprenticeship training programmes to ensure that future vacancies within the company are filled from within. By investing in their future generation they can ensure the company gets the very best out of its own people and that its commitment to training and development reaps its own rewards. Pig apprentices work towards nationally recognised industry specific Certificates of Competence, covering everything to do with pig production from basic stockmanship to animal welfare.
Successful apprentices progress to Animal Technician positions. The varying levels will progress up to and include Assistant and Unit Managers, responsible for the welfare of up to 8,000 animals on a daily basis. Assistant and Unit Manager responsibilities will include providing data for the company's computerised breeding herd information. Breeding systems are accountable for born-alive figures, birthweights and weaning age including feed conversion rates and dead carcase weight. Therefore IT skills are now a key requirement.
Selecting the best animals to fulfil customers' requirements is a skilled job, and requires an experienced eye. Stock selection people (or Selectors) liaise with sales teams and the supply chain team to ensure that customers' requirements are met satisfactorily. Candidates will have previous experience of working with pigs and be physically able to carry out the manual aspects of the work. Meticulous attention to detail and good organisational skills are essential. Hours are often long and involve driving from unit to unit, sometimes great distances apart.
Sales people learn the benefits of different management systems and are able to recommend the appropriate product to fulfil the customers' requirements. The key to being a successful sales person is being able to build long-term relationships, where trust and openness are an essential starting platform. Candidates must be willing to travel, sometimes extensively, and be organised and well presented. An ability to make friends easily and be motivated and results-oriented are essential qualities of successful sales people. Previous pig knowledge is desirable but not always essential.
Artificial Insemination or AI as it is known, is an important element to a breeding company's business. A Laboratory Technician's role is to process semen prior to despatch and carry out industry standard tests for motility etc. Semen is collected and processed in line with rigorous BPEX standards under strict biosecurity guidelines which must be adhered to at all times. Processing the semen prior to despatch means candidates must be systematic and organised in their approach to work.
Research and new product development are crucial to the success of any breeding company in today's challenging market. Breeding companies need to recognise what the market requires, often years ahead of demand. Science plays an important role in food production and breeding companies are at the forefront in using innovative science and technology to breed efficient animals. Candidate requirements at the minimum entry level must have an honours degree in a biological science or mathematic discipline, with at least one year's experience of statistical analysis of scientific data. An ability to work well to deadlines and an ability to communicate well across all levels are desired attributes.