Liscausey Hall Pig Farm, County Tyrone
Supported by National Pig Association
It’s not every day you enter a pig unit through electric gates to then be greeted by an immaculate farmyard. But this is what welcomes you when entering Andrew McCrea’s 750-sow unit in Northern Ireland.
And these first impressions aren’t tarnished when embarking on a virtual tour of his pig farm in his dedicated cinema room. However, it’s then you begin to realise his journey to get to where he is today hasn’t always been a bed of roses.
Battling through years of unsustainable pig prices, it’s clear Andrew’s sheer drive, passion and professionalism have seen him get to where he is today – along with his 500-head beef herd that has provided an income to allow development of the pig herd when prices were at their worst.
Andrew’s steer has seen him develop his father’s pig finishing business, once purchasing weaners from multiple sources, to his own 750 sow and weaner production unit.
Now his indoor farm produces weaners to 35kg which are then moved to four contract finishing farms, which enables an all-in all-out policy. He pays the contract farms £6 a pig for anything finished, not for anything that doesn’t make it to slaughter.
But despite the physical control of finishers being out of Andrews’s hands, he is still very much in control. He uses an online pig grading system to assess the quality of his carcasses and compares them with the rest of the Northern Ireland pig industry which helps him produce the best grading pig for marketing through Progressive Lean Pigs.
Back on his own farm, Andrew is a bit of a whiz kid when it comes to technology – he knows exactly what his feeding and ventilation systems are doing with all the information accessible on his mobile phone.
However, Andrew isn’t a man to be sat in the office and is very much hands on, which is why he has incorporated further technology to ease the every day running of the farm.
He has also invested in EID technology to avoid duplication and improve accuracy of records.
Attention to detail means Andrew has a tight control on costs. And Andrews’s attention to detail is paying off, with sows averaging 2.26 litters a year and pigs weaned for every sow a year at 23.9.
As a DARD Focus Farmer Andrew is also able to contribute to the creation of a more competitive agricultural industry through the provision of farmer-led training to farmers. His aims are to demonstrate good practice, modern technology, innovative farming methods and on-farm research through farm walks, discussion and follow up mentoring.
• One breeding unit, four contract finishing farms
• 750 sows producing 18,000 pigs a year
• 11.5 born alive; 23.9 weaned a sow a year
WHY HE WON
• Progressed and expanded even when market was tough
• Advanced technology to ease workload and improve accuracy
• Tight control on costs
• Great ambassador for industry
Andrew has developed and grown the unit from scratch with his own money and is striving for a profitable and sustainable future
All three finalists have what it takes to drive the industry forward. They have each invested money which will allow them to rear and market pig meat in the most profitable way.
• Roderic Bruce
• Logierieve Farm, Aberdeenshire
Roderic is driving for a profitable future. He is very forward thinking and has good future plans, setting a high standard for pig producers. Once Roderic has expanded he will have a superb unit
• Richard Smith
• Bedfordia Farms, Bedfordshire
A lot of thought and money has gone in to the expansion plans at Bedfordia and Richard has done a fantastic job to deliver that. He is a good staff motivator and has great attention to detail