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Young Farmer Focus: Charlie Thompson - ‘A study-tour in New Zealand is a great opportunity for me’

Charlie Thompson, 31, is a qualified vet and farmer working on his family farm.

 

He has this week gone to New Zealand with a group other young farmers as part of The Louise Hartley Memorial Fund tour.

Follow the study tour on twitter here.

 

Scholarship: As you read this, I will be mid-flight in the sky en route to New Zealand with 10 other young, enthusiastic people, for a two-week study tour.

 

As a vet and now farmer, I have always been interested in learning as much as possible from other farms and businesses, so the trip to New Zealand will be a fantastic opportunity for me.

 

I am lucky enough to work alongside my father, uncle and a great team here that manage a very progressive business in all aspects of the farm; allowing me the time to get away for the trip.


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Pedigree: Day-to-day I am currently involved in our high health pig unit that we operate on behalf of breeding company Genesus, based in Winnipeg, Canada.

 

Our pedigree breeding stock was flown in from Canada in 2017, with the aim of providing high performing pedigree boars and gilts within the UK, Europe and further afield.

 

This coincided with building new grower and finisher accommodation, with a state-of-the-art phased feeding system from Roxell, all put in place to improve efficiency while maintaining high health, welfare and performance.

 

We are extremely busy, with everything done on-site, including semen collection for preferential pedigree breeding, farrowing with weighing and identification with EIDs at birth and detailed performance analysis of every animal for boar and gilt selection.

 

Performance: As a first in the UK we also hope to bring the high levels of intramuscular fat (IMF) seen in Duroc boars to the UK pigmeat sector and as such ultrasound scanning and IMF scoring is employed to help select the best breeding animals, providing a higher flavour product for the consumer.

 

Monitoring performance and getting the most out of our new facilities is a big part of my daily role.

 

Using our current systems and all the weighing we do we are able to monitor average daily gains, intakes and feed conversion efficiencies across the farm.

 

Some animals have been achieving very impressive growth rates, with Duroc boars averaging 1.3kg per day from 60kg to 120kg.

 

New Zealand: The trip to New Zealand is part of The Louise Hartley Memorial Fund and I am particularly excited to meet some great proactive people, being able to discuss how they have built diverse, robust businesses capable of withstanding volatile prices in a subsidy free environment.

 

I am very grateful to all the sponsors including JCB, RABDF, ForFarmers, Tesco, Kite Consulting and, of course, Farmers Guardian for its support of this amazing trip.

 

We are all planning to be posting on social media and following up with articles both in print and online on what we have learned during our time away.

 

So watch this space for more information of other candidates in future articles over the coming weeks.

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