By Farmer reporter

Pig keepers in Wales will have unrivalled access to specialist advice at a virtual conference to be held later this month by Menter Moch Cymru.

Free to attend, the conference takes place online on Wednesday, January 27.

“We are delighted to be able to offer producers access to such a wealth of expert knowledge and advice,” said Menter Moch Cymru project manager, Melanie Cargill.

“We have aimed to make the day as informative and varied as possible, so that there’s something for everyone and have been fortunate to be able to bring together such a broad range of specialists and consultants to share their experiences and views.”

The day-long conference features a series of webinars by experts in herd management, meat production, marketing and more; and is interspersed with topic-specific one-to-one sessions.

Melanie added: “We hope that as many producers as possible will join the conference – they can join for the whole day, or mix and match the sessions that are of most interest to them. The one-to-one sessions, which must be booked in advance – will revolve around 25-minute conversations with a range of specialists covering a variety of areas such as marketing, outdoor rearing, on-farm processing, pig housing, and herd health and welfare.”

Among those making presentations will be independent industry analyst, Mick Sloyan. He has over 40 years of experience working in the industry, and he will give an overview of the sector and forecast for 2021.

On the agenda will be topics such as the influence of Brexit on the domestic market, the impact of African swine fever and Covid-19, feed costs and the sustainability of price premiums.

Mick explains: "It has never been so important to understand what's happening in the pig sector and what are the predictions for the year ahead. The last 18 months has been unprecedented and the volatility looks set to continue in 2021.

“The presentation and discussion will help pig producers understand the market forces that will shape their business so that they can manage through what could be a turbulent year. I'll be covering the likely opportunities and challenges for pig keepers in Wales over the next 12 months and am very much looking forward to answering the questions put forward by farmers.”

An insight into current and future market and consumer trends will be given by Sophie Colquhoun. Part of the Brookdale Consulting team that manages the Welsh Government food and drink insight programme, she is a director of category insight and former group marketing director of Tulip Foods.

Her presentation will feature the latest market insight from Kantar Worldpanel and The Foodpeople, as well as highlights of the latest Welsh Government ‘Value of Welshness’ research and the impact of Welshness on shoppers.

Multi-award-winning Welsh charcuterie – including the Marketing Initiative of the Year title at the 2020 National Pig Awards – Cwm Farm Charcuterie Products sells its products worldwide.

Owner, Ruth Davies, will detail the business’s journey ‘from herd to hampers’ and more with advice on developing a successful business and using social media to get your brand noticed.

The factors that affect pork’s eating quality and how the pig industry can live up to consumer expectations will be discussed by acclaimed meat scientist Caroline Mitchell.

The owner and director of food quality management consultancy FQM Global, Caroline will ‘walk the supply chain’ with particular focus on what can be done on-farm to ensure products meet the consumers’ eating experience requirements.

According to Caroline; “The savings and profits we make on farm through KPI’s such as daily live weight gain, food conversion rate and kg sold/sow/year in reality are only wooden dollars moving around allied industries. The only new money within the supply chain comes from the consumer. The consumer is key to the sustainability of the pork industry.”

Young Pig Farmer of the Year 2020 finalist Luke Starkey, has turned his hobby into one of the largest farrow-to-finish systems in Wales.

He will take conference attendees on a virtual tour of his Pembrokeshire farm, where has converted former dairy herd buildings into accommodation for 180 large white/landrace cross sows. Working on a three-week production cycle, he aims to expand the herd to 350 sows.

Attendees will also hear first-hand from pig farmer Richard Mellor, who runs a 920-sow outdoor unit in Norfolk and who recently won the herd productivity award at the National Pig Awards. Richard has achieved phenomenal figures, well above the top 10 per cent outdoor average and will focus on how be has harnessed innovation to improve the performance of his herd.

Attendees who take up the opportunity of one-to-one sessions will be able to discuss specific areas of their own farm and business with a number of experts including renowned pig specialist, Bob Stevenson.

Bob said: “I so look forward to the one-to-one conversations. I am certain I can help answer your management and health questions. If pig keepers wish to find out about a best worming programme, poor litter size or coughing in their growing pigs, then voice them during the free one-to-one chat.”

For more information and to book in advance, visit or call 07494 478 652.