Recruiting and retaining skilled labour may be a hot topic among UK pig producers, but the loss of staff is not only a domestic problem, it is affecting producers worldwide too.

Canada’s Elite Swine used the Pig and Poultry Fair as an opportunity to recruit more UK staff for their units, having successfully found staff here before.

Having joined Elite Swine in 1998 and moved his family to Canada, former English pig farmer Martin Bowman reckons it is the best move he ever made.

“The cost of living in Canada is about half that of here and, while wages aren’t exactly comparable, it is still a far better life out there than we ever had in the UK.”

And, much like the UK where labour shortages are being caused by the attraction of other industries, it is the Canadian oil industry which is luring away potential pig workers, he explained.

“We are simply lacking young people coming into the industry.

They can earn far more in the oil fields and are taking the opportunities on offer.”

Workers tempted to cross the Atlantic can expect good working conditions too, he reckoned.

“They generally work a 44-hour week and one weekend in three.

On top of that when they work a weekend they have two days off in lieu too.

And career prospects are also good, as Elite Swine is part of the Maple Leaf group which employs more than 22,000 people.”

jonathan.long@rbi.co.uk