Our pig expert Clive Searson, can’t quite believe that he recently completed working on his 70th pig unit since his career began almost forty years ago. A major achievement for the industry, he has spent his entire career working on numerous indoor and outdoor pig farms spanning 13 counties!
So, where did it all start?
It all began on a farm in Lincolnshire where Clive’s parents kept Wessex Saddleback pigs. Being born on a farm, his natural instincts kicked in, and when his father bought him his first sow from Spalding Market, five-year-old Clive became a pigman.
Roll on few years, and Clive heads off to Lincolnshire College of Agriculture to study. He meets numerous people, learns the theory, and in 1980 the work really begins. Clive’s ‘Wellies-On Approach to Pig Stockmanship’ is born and the rest, as they say, is history.
Over many decades, Clive is involved in producing stock for a number of breeding companies. He works at colleges producing boars for AI Studs, consults on stock for export to numerous countries. He was tasked with overseeing the closures the Farmers Weekly pig unit, has a spell at National Agricultural Centre and takes on multiple freelance and Roadhogs assignments. Gaining a wide variety of expertise and knowledge along the way, Clive’s reputation grows, and he becomes ‘the’ guy to call for all pig matters.
Clive says that working in the pig industry has been diverse, hard work, insightful and great for meeting new people. He’s also seen the industry change dramatically, “when I was producing nucleus pedigree stock, the quota was less than 50 sows per man, but now, we regularly work on units of 500 sows per man.” Changes in pig husbandry too, “back then, we actually sold boars directly. People would come to the unit and select their own boar, and now, they simply ring up and order 200 doses of a code number, the pig industry has changed a lot!”
There is no doubt that livestock farming has become more demanding, but the only way to tackle it is snout first. You need to be the kind of person who is adaptable and dedicated, but also someone who will thrive in stressful or difficult situations. And that’s where our Clive is at his best — relishing a challenge, ready for action and willing to get his wellies dirty.
For over 38 years, Clive has worked on over 70 units across the country. He’s experienced state of the art units and falling out of the ark units. He’s met incredible people along the way and learned some very valuable lessons.
“I feel lucky to have worked with great unit owners, and the managers and they have inspired me in my work. One of the most important lessons instilled in me over the years is the need to understand and look after the people we employ. A good and happy team means the unit will thrive; it’s as simple as that.”
And indeed, the pig industry is a people industry, and that’s why in 1990, Clive went freelance and joined Roadhogs Recruitment as a Pig Specialist relief team member. Attracted to assignments on units all over the UK, filling in and assisting on units in Dorset, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Wales, Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire, where no day’s the same, no challenge too great and plenty of laughs along the way.
Fast forward a few years and Clive’s work continues across outdoor and indoor units in more counties than we can name. With more farms under his belt, Clive’s ‘Wellies-On Approach’ to Pig Stockmanship becomes sought after for trouble-shooting and consultancy.
Today, he is on hand to cover a variety of pig industry tasks from resolving staff issues to batch serving and vaccinations, he takes care of farms in owners’ absence, consults on expansions and sales of farms, and fills in when managers are away. The sky is literally the limit!
As he reflects on his 70th Unit, which came in the most salubrious surroundings of a rained-on potato field, while serving in the freezing wind with a hole in his welly, Clive exclaimed, “I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else!”