A Scottish Pig Academy to encourage stockmanship training in the Scottish pig industry was officially launched on June 21 at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The initial cohort of 10 Scottish Pig Academy trainees is currently being recruited with training due to start in August. The Academy has been developed by Barony College with input from Quality Meat Scotland, VION and Scottish Agricultural College. Funding for course development has been provided by the supermarket group ASDA/Walmart, Quality Meat Scotland, the European Union and Skills Development Scotland.

The inspiration for the Academy came from pig producers, unit managers and staff taking part in the Pig Business Network run by Quality Meat Scotland, who voiced concern about the lack of a structured training program for the industry. “The objective of the Scottish Pig Academy is to implement a recognized vocational training program for basic and advanced pig stockmanship in Scotland," said a spokesman for Quality Meat Scotland. "Crucially, the program can be delivered locally and at low cost to farmers."

There are currently around 500 people employed on Scottish pig farms and the aim is to develop the technical knowledge and skills required to maximize productivity and efficiency on pig farms. Among the areas to be covered by the course are herd performance, herd health and machinery use and maintenance, along with personal performance. Training will be delivered online on the farms where the apprentices work, making it easy to access from any location and to work in a flexible way to fit round work schedules. A network of experienced mentors will provide support to individual learners working through the modules. 

“We’ve been working hard to support the Scottish pig industry over the past few years and this initiative is another great example of collaboration in the supply chain," said Dr. Chris Brown, ASDA’s head of ethical and sustainable sourcing.