New course for pig farm managers commences

A new Pig Farm Managers Course, being offered by the Teagasc Pig Development Department, has commenced in Portlaoise today (Thursday, September 27).

According to Teagasc, the new course was offered following considerable consultation with key pig industry stakeholders.

Skilled staff – who are motivated to deliver a high level of technical performance – are essential in pig production, Teagasc added.

It stated that well-trained staff working in large, specialised units were the drivers of world class productivity in the industry in the past.

Teagasc has also claimed that the supply of staff from the old ‘Athenry pig course’ was the foundation on which this productivity was achieved.

The availability of better paid employment outside of agriculture – and especially for semi-skilled labour in construction – resulted in a mass exodus of Irish workers from the pig industry in the early 2000s.

That exodus is also claimed to have led to a reduced number of “qualified and competent pig farm managers”.

Teagasc believes that there is a need to further develop such courses and following consultation with industry stakeholders, the Pig Development Department has now started a Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) accredited Level 6 specific purpose course for pig farm managers.

The course is aimed at pig farm staff with a good knowledge of pig husbandry and production, who have been identified by their employers as potential pig farm managers.

Knowledge Transfer

Speaking at the start of today’s course, the head of Teagasc Pigs Knowledge Transfer, Ciaran Carroll, said: “I’m delighted with the response to this first course.

“We have 20 students enrolled for this inaugural course. The pig sector has been under pressure in recent months. No different to our colleagues in the dairy sector, there is a dearth of skilled farm staff and also quality pig farm managers.

We in the Teagasc Pig Development Department hope that this course will help to ensure the future viability and success of the pig sector, the third most important agricultural sector in Ireland after milk and beef.

The course will be led by the Teagasc Pig Development Department’s specialist pig advisers and delivered by a mix of Teagasc Pig Development Department staff and invited guest speakers.

Exams and project assignments will form the main part of the course’s assessments, which will be verified by QQI – the independent state agency responsible for promoting quality and accountability in education and training services in Ireland.