Farmer Focus: Big boots to fill as Gordon McKen retires

Scottish Pig Producers (SPP), our pig marketing group, had its AGM this week, a memorable day as after 36 years at the helm taking the group from 500 pigs a week to today’s 10,500 pigs a week, Gordon McKen retired.

Our chairman, Patrick Stephen, said the farmers that started the group wanted a hard-working, enthusiastic, forward-thinking person to run the group and my goodness they could not have got a better fit to their advert.

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Gordon, along with the directors of Grampian Pig Producers, as it was known then, have helped pig farmers through lots of ups and downs in the pig industry. They set up Wholesome Pigs Scotland along with QMS, a health monitoring group.

SPP also recently acquired the pig slaughtering facility in Brechin, the only sizeable pig slaughterhouse in Scotland. Gordon has also worked tirelessly with many organisations for the good of the whole pig industry, including NFUS, SSPCA and QMS.

He has a photo of a meeting where the setting up of GPP was being discussed. There was a large crowd, showing that there were many more pig farmers then than now. The only person in the picture who also attended this year’s AGM was my dad.

Gordon will be missed, but lives only three miles from the office, so will be on call for advice I am sure. His successor has big boots to fill, but Andy McGowan has a great CV and will fit in very well.

The weather at the end of February allowed one of our more-organised neighbours to start sowing and by early March he was almost finished. The rain and sun mix we have had since then has meant I have not had the drill on yet, but at least all the ploughing is done.

Our spring cropping is all sorted as long as the Basic Payment Scheme rules don’t change again. Hopefully we can get our forms either online or in paper form if the new department computer programme is not doing what it should.

To those who are interested, the pigs are still clean and looking good, making our partial depopulation a success.

 Danny Skinner

Danny Skinner farms 440 sows selling finished pigs through Scottish Pig Producers. He runs 125ha at home and rents a further 50ha, growing cereals for home mixing


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