An assistant hatchery supervisor, a turkey farm manager, an assistant breeder rearing farm manager and a trainee area manager make up the four finalists in this year’s Zoetic/British Poultry Council Trainee of the Year Award.

Zoetis-BPC-logoThe four candidates profiled below will meet the judges this month to determine who will be the 2015 Zoetis/BPC Trainee of the Year. The winner will be announced at the British Poultry Council’s annual awards ceremony at the House of Commons on 8 December.

The prize includes a £2,000 training grant from Zoetis, a £500 cash prize from Poultry World and a commemorative plaque.

The judging panel comprises Adas senior consultant Jason Gittins, Poultry World editor Philip Clarke, BPC food policy director Richard Griffiths and Zoetis poultry manager for UK and Ireland, James Porritt.

Laura Addison

PD Hook, North Yorkshire

Laura AddisonLike many young people, Laura Addison set her sights on a career with good opportunities to advance – but not initially in the poultry industry.

She had progressed to become a restaurant manager and also trained in childcare, but it was when she was made redundant in 2009 that she took a job at the P D Hook hatchery at Dalton in North Yorkshire, where her father worked on the night shift.

Training was always high on her agenda. Starting with NVQ level 2 training in 2010 and now completing level 3, she has notched up more than 20 courses and gained numerous IT skills which, says P D Hook hatchery manager Stephen Deerness, have proved a great asset in the day-to-day running of the hatchery.

This had led to Laura undertaking more responsible tasks – from planning daily egg sets and new hygiene and biosecurity programmes, to assisting hatchery management in the annual Integra audits.

“Laura is always looking to make improvements wherever she can and has come up with some well thought through ideas which have now been implemented,” says Mr Deerness.

She suggested, for instance, that new starters would benefit from learning more about biosecurity.

She advocated a more structured approach and asked to take on the responsibility of going through all aspects of biosecurity and hygiene to ensure that all new starters were fully aware of its importance from their arrival.

This led to a comprehensive programme being drawn up and a checklist for every new starter to sign off as part of their induction to the hatchery.

Her Poultec training adviser Andrew Gotts says Laura produced outstanding work for her diploma, showing a good, in-depth knowledge of her working environment. “Laura is a confident, well-mannered young lady and I hope she will keep progressing forward like she is, because she will make a good manager one day.”

If successful, Laura would use the Zoetis grant money for courses in hatchery management and incubation training.

She believes the poultry industry offers a diverse and challenging career path – with opportunities from farm and hatchery management, to engineering and IT roles.

“I think marketing this to young people would attract them to the industry,” she said. “I also think the poultry industry gives good job security.”

Andrew Bumfrey

Bernard Matthews, Norfolk

Andrew BumfreyA family background in game lured Andrew Bumfrey into a career in poultry with Bernard Matthews. His uncle and grandfather were both gamekeepers in Norfolk and he had done seasonal work on a game farm after leaving school.

Now eight years on, and after achieving further training qualifications in the past year, he is set to manage a new state-of-the-art performance house.

Andrew began in the turkey breeder rearing operation, travelling between five farms to carry out routine tasks. Then he jumped at the chance to run a commercial growing farm, brooding 80,000 turkeys twice a year, with 50,000 moved to other grow-on farms and the remaining 30,000 grown to heavier weights.

“His time in breeder rearing taught Andrew the importance of attention to detail, ensuring bird welfare comes first, and that motivating people and leading by example will deliver the best results,” says Evelyn Edwards, general agricultural manager for Bernard Matthews.

He took the opportunity to work across the agricultural division, including laying farms and hatchery, so that he has been able to transfer skills and ideas between areas and become innovative in his approach to solving day-to-day problems, she adds.

“Bernard Matthews have been so impressed with Andrew and his progress and diligence that we have asked him to manage our new performance house.”

Nathan Raines, associate director of Poultec Training, says when he first saw Andrew as a chargehand on a rearing farm it was obvious he wanted to learn and progress.

“Andrew really worked hard to learn the new skills and knowledge required to grow commercial turkeys and this has resulted in him being very successful and achieving excellent results. He has also managed to complete his level 3 Work-based Diploma and Advanced Adult Apprenticeship in the past year.”

Asked how to make a career in poultry more attractive to young people, Andrew said: “I believe the key is to go to schools and colleges and promote the industry’s interesting career opportunities.”

If successful, Andrew would like to use the Zoetis training grant for a higher management course.

Annabelle Heath

Cargills Meats, Hereford

Annabelle HeathBy the time Annabelle Heath joined Cargill Meats Europe at the age of 21 she had already led a varied and adventurous life. Now, 18 months later, she has settled into a career in poultry with a bright future.

She was brought up on a mixed farm near Telford with a 120,000-bird broiler unit, with an uncle running a large free-range egg unit where she worked at weekends while at school. But it was in the horse-racing world that she saw her future. She had six years’ experience working in racing stables and she holds a jockey’s licence.

“Had I ridden a few winners life might have been rather different,” says Annabelle. “But after I had spent three months on a Young Farmers’ Club scholarship in New Zealand, I was looking for a career in agriculture and the opportunity came up with Cargill.”

Her nomination comes from Nicholas Ham, Cargill breeder rearing area manager, who himself won the Zoetis/BPC Trainee of the Year Award in 2013.

“Annabelle is a very enthusiastic young lady with a real passion for poultry and a thirst for knowledge. She started her career with Cargill as an assistant farm manager at our breeder rearing site, Ermine Street, and has shown real potential for progression within the company,” he says.

“She is often coming up with new ideas and better ways of doing things on the farm, and is always asking questions and trying to improve performance.”

Annabelle is working towards a National Vocational Diploma level 3 in poultry production and also undertaking Cargill’s personal development course. She has recently been accepted into Tesco’s Future Farmers Foundation, a 12-month training programme that includes business planning, supply chain experience and networking opportunities.

Her training adviser at Poultec, Ricky Isley, says Annabelle has a conscientious, hard-working approach and likes to try out new techniques and ideas, which has led to improved performance on the farm. “With these attributes I can see her progressing and managing her own farm or becoming an area manager.”

If she wins the Zoetis/BPC training grant, Annabelle would like to study poultry behaviour under different regimes – free-range, barn or less intensive barn – to achieve “a much greater understanding of why production differs the way it does, and why poultry behaviour has such a huge effect”.

Daniel Roberts

Faccenda Foods, Northants

Daniel-RobertsDaniel Roberts’ career prospects have blossomed since he began to focus on training soon after rejoining Faccenda Foods three years ago.

With an interest in farming stemming from a family holiday in north Wales – but no family background in the industry – he started working for Faccenda in 2001 and, within 15 months, at the age of 21, was promoted to manage a 200,000-bird broiler farm.

Then, in 2006, he began six years on an organic poultry farm in Staffordshire working with egg layers, turkeys and guinea fowl as well as chickens.

It was on his return to Faccenda to manage two of its broiler farms that Daniel saw the full value of training. His first course was for a Diploma in Work-based Agriculture (Poultry) level 3.

“The training I received from Poultec in particular really sharpened my senses regarding the day-to-day running of a modern broiler farm,” he says.

“My assessor Andrew Gotts has extensive industry experience and I believe I benefited from this, as some course modules provoked valuable and insightful discussions.”

Mr Gotts says with determination, training, learning and field experience it is very possible to move forward in the poultry industry. “Dan is a confident young man and will easily progress up the management tree, taking the industry forward with it.”

Stuart Newlands, Faccenda general agriculture manager, says the additional skills and knowledge from the training was realised during his tenure at Ambrosden Farm, where fewer carcass rejects and lower bedding replacement equated to annualised savings of £12,000 and £6,000, respectively.

“His careful and considered approach provided the business with the confidence to offer Dan a post-graduate course position in 2014, hosted at Harper Adams through the Faccenda partnership programme.

“This one-year course has only ever been offered to staff in middle management positions before.”

Then, in May, Daniel was promoted to become a trainee area manager servicing 3.8 million birds across 17 broiler farms.

“Unsurprisingly, Dan is forging ahead in the role, making quite clear progress on improved performance across his base.”

Now he would like to convert his post-graduate course award into a diploma by studying a further four modules, including poultry science and public health, animal welfare and bioethics, with the option to lead to a master’s degree.

With the poultry industry’s ageing workforce, he says it should focus more on schools and colleges, use social media to engage youngsters in what it can offer them and do more to promote apprenticeships.