Pitched against two hugely inspiring finalists, Craig Grant had some stiff competition. It is his forensic approach to every aspect of his poultry business, combined with a willingness to work with others to build knowledge and expertise, that marks him out as the winner.
Throw any question at him about his costs of production and he either knows the answer immediately – down to three decimal places in some instances – or can work it out in seconds.
He knows that when you are dealing with 40,000 free-range birds and supplying a major retailer that attention to detail and meticulous record keeping is what keeps you ahead of the game.
Farm Facts: Kindrought, Strichen, Aberdeenshire
- Runs two 12,000-bird houses for family
- Established 16,000-bird house in own right
- Contract work to supplement income
In just five years Craig has established a profitable poultry business on the 290ha arable and pig farm run by his father and uncle near Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire.
He runs the family’s two 12,000-bird houses on a self-employed basis and also operates his own 16,000 Big Dutchman multi-tier unit which he built in his own right after securing grant funding in 2010. All the houses utilise grain grown on the main farm. Eggs are sold to Morrisons through its local packing station, Farmlay Eggs.
After 10 years travelling the world as an engineer in the oil industry Craig has seen what life is like away from farming and it is evident that it shapes his whole approach.
- Impressive growth in business in short period of time
- Secured own future on farm
- Attention to detail combined with “big-picture” business vision
- Strong emphasis on collaboration and innovation
He says it gave him confidence in working with different people from different cultures and an understanding of how business in general operates.
It means he places a strong emphasis on the need for good communication with his buyer and is constantly looking for opportunities to tweak his system so he can increase efficiency, drive down costs or improve bird welfare.
He is not someone who is afraid to try out new techniques – for example modifying the speed of his egg belts to cut collection times and working with contacts in the feed industry to trial new diets.
“Craig demonstrates exceptional attention to detail in bird nutrition and the health and practicalities of egg production. He is a clear leader with a collaborative approach, matching business vision with passion for agriculture”
Dr Paul Wilson Rural business unit, University of Nottingham
“Attention to small details make all the difference with regard to profit at the end of the day,” he says. The results are there to be seen – Craig’s birds are all laying eight to 10 eggs over target, which translates to extra profit.
Like his fellow competitors in the category, Craig has bags of enthusiasm and a positive attitude about the farming industry. He is keen to encourage and support his neighbouring farmers rather than seeing them as direct competitors.
He is an active member of the producer group run by the packing station, which sees members working collaboratively to share best practice and tackle labour-intensive jobs such as depleting sheds. A natural leader, he has also held the position of chairman of the Fraserburgh Discussion Group.
He has achieved an impressive amount already but has big plans for the future. Conscious of the impact of rising feed costs he is now looking to rent or buy some more land of his own.
“Opportunities within agriculture at the moment are there for the taking and it is my plan in the future to further expand my business.”
“Craig’s enthusiasm, business-minded approach and focus on understanding what consumers are looking for make him a worthy winner”
Graham Wilkinson Agriculture manager
Rectory Farms, Gloucestershire
David has grasped business opportunities to secure his long-term place in dairying. Farming in partnership with his parents on a 300ha mixed unit, he has been central to expanding the dairy herd and enhancing cow welfare.
Lovejoy Farm Partnership, Kent
Ed is an inspirational figure for anyone struggling to get into farming. Innovation, drive, determination and effective networking have helped him to establish a successful 250ha sheep farm unit from scratch in just seven years.
Keep up with all the news from the 2012 Farmers Weekly Awards