Farmer Focus: Twitter provides much-needed escapism

For most, Christmas 2020 fell short of the usual happy celebrations we’re accustomed to.

The new year was also a challenge for many, with the UK entering an uncertain future outside the EU and a new, more contagious strain of Covid forcing tighter restrictions on us all.

But over in Norfolk, January meant something quite different – a Twitter takeover.

In the autumn I was invited to be the first outdoor pig breeder to host the Farmers of the UK Twitter account, and what better time to showcase our work, innovations and animals than in January, when everyone needs a boost?

See also: Pigs in the arable rotation – benefits and what to consider

This step into the unknown proved to be the most effective and welcome form of escapism I have ever experienced.

I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive as the week drew nearer. Was I going to have enough material? Would people engage with my posts? Would the account’s followers be supportive of the way we farm our pigs?

I knew for the good of the UK’s pig industry I had to nail it, but I was also aware that my employer, LSB Pigs, and the other organisations I’m associated with were putting huge faith in my ability to relay the enthusiasm and dedication I have for the UK’s unique high-welfare outdoor pig sector.

In the end there was no need for concern, as the response I received was genuinely inspiring. People were so interested to see how are pigs are farmed and how good, healthy food is produced.

I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to demonstrate our farming methods online in what was effectively a virtual open farm.

Many pork products in supermarkets are now labelled as “outdoor bred”, but not many consumers will fully understand the lengths we go to when producing it. So we must continue to grab opportunities like my Twitter takeover to open our doors and showcase the superb UK pig industry, however and whenever we can.

My posts, which started on 4 January, are still available to view, so whether you’re an old hand at Twitter or a relative newcomer, you can join in: @FarmersOfTheUK. You can also always find me and the LSB pigs: @robonthefarm1

Rob McGregor manages an outdoor pig operation in north Norfolk. See his biography.

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