Over the past 14 years the award has gone to those involved with broilers and broiler breeders, ducks and turkeys, pedigree breeding stock as well as those working in indoor and free-range settings, hatcheries, and, in the past two years, the egg sector.
With the 2021 award launching this month, entries are invited from all sectors before the 31 October deadline. There is no age restriction, with several winners starting in the industry as their second career.
Inevitably, the 2020 award schedule was restricted by Covid-19. The judging and presentation took place virtually, but the four finalists were still able to enjoy champagne and fine dining courtesy of Rick Stein meal boxes. They also received £100 book vouchers to help with their learning.
The high calibre of all finalists presented the judges with an almost impossible task.
The winner was Harriet Smith, poultry specialist with Crediton Milling Co, who has chosen to use the Zoetis £2,000 training grant for a poultry nutrition course with Nottingham University. She and her employer also received engraved trophies.
Harriet has built a following on Instagram – @the_poultry_diaries – with insight into her work.
The winner in 2019, Leah Page-Stott, put her £2,000 to immediate use last summer, funding a commercial vehicle qualification to help with livestock transport in her family’s free-range egg business in Yorkshire.
In 2018, the award went to Jonathan Bowen, who began his career in the Royal Navy and then joined Cobb Europe, becoming relief team leader.
And in 2017, the winner was Polish hatchery worker Klaudia Roszkowska, who came to the UK and joined Cargill Meats Europe in Herefordshire.
“Poultry is a vibrant industry that needs to attract more young people with talent and ambition,” said James Porritt, national pig and poultry manager for Zoetis.
“Each year the award demonstrates how people can take advantage of training to progress their careers and so highlight the many opportunities that the industry offers across the egg and meat sectors.
“Despite having to delay the 2020 award because of the Covid-19 situation, we succeeded in completing the judging and presentation online with rewards for all the four finalists. This year we do hope to revert to a more traditional schedule.”
Guests at NFU Conference
In the past, the finalists have been involved in a high-profile presentation event where the winner is announced, providing a day to remember for them all.
The NFU has also invited them as guests at its farming conference in February.
NFU Poultry Board Chair Thomas Wornham said: “The NFU is proud to continue supporting this important award for the industry. We have already seen talented individuals progress from winning the training grant to becoming key members of the industry and we hope to continue identifying future ambassadors for the poultry sector.”