Farmer Focus Livestock: Educate the teachers says Chris Fogden

We didn’t take part in Open Farm Sunday, as it clashed with our local annual Country Fair-cum-Steam rally. During the event there were meant to be tours of my landlord’s estate, including my pig unit. Unfortunately, the weather meant the tours didn’t happen, on top of the gate money being drastically reduced.

One visit that did happen was a school trip organised by the Country Trust, which aims to get inner-city school children to visit farms and estates to learn about food production and rural life.

Our visitors were eight- and nine-year-olds from Thetford, which, while not exactly inner city, might as well be. Quite telling was their teacher’s attitude to them handling pig feed, with her telling them to put it down as if it were toxic. Perhaps the education needs to start with the teachers.

One thing we are proud of is the number of ground-nesting birds in the vicinity of the pigs, particularly the rare stone-curlew. We are not as good as one neighbour, who, for the second successive year, has had a pair of stone-curlews nesting in occupied farrowing paddocks. Also nesting in our vicinity are lapwings and common curlew.

Another neighbour has been taking life-changing decisions. Colin Stone has transformed – in less than two weeks – from a hard-working pig business manager to a fully-fledged adviser, having joined the BPEX knowledge transfer team. The overalls and pick-up truck have been ditched and he now comes complete with a BlackBerry and a Mondeo.

The BPEX KT team has been doing useful work helping improve productivity. With one or two small problems taking the gloss off an otherwise pleasing performance, I’m looking forward to the new Eastern Region KT manager squeezing me into his schedule.

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