Dedicated pig farmer wins animal welfare accolade
- Credit: Archant / RSPCA Assured
A young manager of a Norfolk pig herd has won a national award for his commitment to farm animal welfare.
Ben Thompsett, from Norfolk Free Range, is celebrating winning the "excellence in higher farm animal welfare" category in RSPCA Assured’s first-ever awards for pig and poultry members.
At 23 years old, he leads a six-strong team managing an RSPCA Assured outdoor breeding unit with 1,500 sows for Norfolk Free Range, which is based near Downham Market but has breeding units and farms across East Anglia.
He impressed an independent panel of judges with his "unwavering dedication to pig welfare".
Mr Thompsett said he was "delighted" to win the award, adding: "I try hard to do the very best for my pigs and make sure they are kept to the highest possible welfare standards. It feels good to be recognised for this.”
Nick Baird, Norfolk Free Range’s breeding manager, said: “Ben has been working for us for three years now.
"He will always go the extra mile and work late for the welfare of the animals.
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"For instance, a batch of gilts left the gilt-rearing unit late one afternoon so they didn’t get to Swaffham until the early evening. Ben stayed back to make sure the gilts were settled into their pens before he went home.
“Nothing is ever too much trouble, he always prioritises the welfare of the pigs. Ben sets a great example to his colleagues, particularly the younger ones who really look up to him, which is why he is so good at training people.”
One of the judges was Dr Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association.
She said: “We were so impressed by Ben. He is a very dedicated young man who is clearly going over and above to ensure the welfare of his pigs. His mortality rates are amazingly low which really demonstrates that dedication.
“The RSPCA Assured awards are a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate pig producers who are going above and beyond in animal welfare, education and sustainability and Ben is very deserving of his award.”