FW Awards 2009 winner: Pig Farmer of the Year – Martin Barker

  • Sponsored by Waitrose
  • WINNER: Martin Barker, Midland Pig Producers, Staffordshire

To suggest there wouldn’t be intensive pig production in the UK in 10 years time without the help of Martin Barker, may be going a step too far.

However, this man is battling all the issues facing the industry at the moment, resulting in the creation of a revolutionary “ideal housing template” that could eventually be adopted by all.

Undoubtedly, Martin is a shrewd businessman; taking a company that was loosing thousands of pounds a year ago to one that is expected to make in excess of £500,000 a year from the sale of biogas alone is astonishing.

As managing director of Midland Pig Producers, which consists of 3000 sows across seven farms, Martin plans to transform them into high welfare, low environmental impact and odourless facilities, with the first 2500 sow site nearing completion.

The first new site contains innovative underground anaerobic digesters, high welfare housing developed with welfare groups and an on farm feed mill with local farmers being provided with seed and fertiliser on a buy back contract.

Costing £140 a pig place after a 40% grant you could be forgiven for wondering how Martin calculates a payback period of just two years.

But with the margin a pig on the new site £53 compared to £16 currently, plus the £500,000 a year being generated from biogas production, it doesn’t take long to work out how.

By 2011 the plan will be to have 11,000 sows increasing 2000 a year after this.

But, despite overhauling Midland Pig Producers, production figures across the seven sites are still some of the best you will see.

Figures like 15.4 born alive, average daily gains of 738kg a day from weaning to slaughter with a feed conversion of 2.87 – who knows just what they will be in the new units.

But not taking second best is what gets them these results. For example all semen is checked and if sperm levels are not promised then they will be sent back.

Martin is hoping that by improving welfare and the environment on the new units, they can also get 10p a pig more for an environmental premium.



  • 3000 sows over seven farms
  • 3100 acres
  • Landrace x Large White sow x Hampshire and Pietrain terminal sire
  • Marketing through Tulip


  • Bridging the gap with welfare groups
  • Creating an approved housing template that could be adopted by others
  • Sustainability by removing market pressures


  • The innovation and market-focused approach of these three finalists should be an inspiration to all. In our winner, Martin Barker, we have a truly outstanding ambassador for the British pig industry. Duncan Sinclair, Waitrose


  • Martin is the driving force of a business that is setting out to prove indoor pig production can be competitive and environmentally friendly. Many techniques being used in the construction of the new units may prove useful to others. Ian Campbell

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