Stephanie Pedrick wins Zoetis – NFU Poultry Trainee Award 2023

16 May 2024

A picture of the 2023 Zoetis-NFU Poultry Trainee Award winner, Stephanie Pedrick, with James Porritt from Zoetis

Pictured above: 2023 Zoetis-NFU Poultry Trainee Award winner, Stephanie Pedrick, pictured with James Porritt - UK Pig & Poultry Business Manager at Zoetis

Stephanie Pedrick has won the Zoetis-NFU Poultry Trainee Award and a £1,000 training grant. 

Stephanie Pedrick, who made a major career change when she took a job in a Devon poultry hatchery, is the winner of the 2023 Zoetis – NFU Poultry Trainee Award,  presented at the British Pig and Poultry Fair at the NEC Birmingham.

John Kenyon, Zoetis national veterinary manager, made the presentation during a session in the poultry theatre appropriately focusing on ‘Supporting today’s generation and inspiring the next’.

Unrivalled enthusiasm for the sector

The judges from Zoetis and the NFU were inspired by the approach of Stephanie Pedrick towards the industry.

“We were particularly impressed by Stephanie’s thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm for the poultry sector, as well as her approach to problem solving to continuously improve the welfare and performance of the birds in her care.”

NFU poultry adviser Tom Glen

“We were extremely impressed by Stephanie’s genuine enthusiasm and excitement towards the poultry industry,” said John Kenyon.

“These qualities have helped her build her career and progress into management in a relatively few years. Stephanie is keen to encourage others to look towards the poultry industry for a worthwhile career.”

NFU poultry adviser Tom Glen said: “The calibre of all three finalists was extremely high, so picking a winner was a difficult decision for the panel.

“We were particularly impressed by Stephanie’s thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm for the poultry sector, as well as her approach to problem solving to continuously improve the welfare and performance of the birds in her care.”

The prize includes a £1000 training grant sponsored by Zoetis, which Stephanie says would be put towards a veterinary or nutritional course enabling bird health and welfare to be monitored more efficiently. The finalists all also receive guest invites to the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference at Newport in the autumn.

Meet the finalists

Stephanie Pedrick | Liv Robinson | Emily Green

Liv Robinson

When Liv Robinson left college at 18 with a diploma in production arts – managing sound and lighting for shows – she never imagined she’d soon be working in the poultry industry. But that was before she met her partner, who had a job in the broiler sector.

She warmed to the idea of working with poultry, took a job working on one of Annyalla’s broiler growing sites in Yorkshire and made an immediate impression with her manager.

“It became apparent over the next few months that Liv’s interest in the industry went beyond the day-to-day farm operations to wanting to learn more about what happens outside of the chicken houses – namely ‘operational compliance’ involving assurance scheme standards, environmental standards and poultry welfare in general,” said Leigh Gallant, Annyalla’s Group Compliance and Poultry Welfare Manager.

A picture of Olivia Robinson in a broiler holding a chick

Making quick progress

Liv joined Annyalla Chicks in 2019, was enrolled on the NVQ Poultry Apprentice Scheme in 2022 and since then her progression within the business has been extremely swift and very admirable, says Leigh.

She is now the compliance officer providing operational support across their broiler and breeder operations. Her tutor, Nathan Raines of Poultec Training, states:

“Liv is an excellent example of how a young person can progress within the industry over a relatively short time if they have the right attitude and commitment.”

In her role Liv places great importance on hygiene.  “One very important part of my job is monitoring the TVC dip slide and water results from the laboratory. My training has helped me to understand the issues caused by poor hygiene and to work alongside our veterinary surgeons to ensure bird health is not affected by poor hygiene.”

“Liv is an excellent example of how a young person can progress within the industry over a relatively short time if they have the right attitude and commitment.”

Nathan Raines, Poultec Training

A team player

She has instigated group ‘meet ups’ with other apprentices to offer roundtable discussion and guidance on training assessments and other related tasks.

Liv welcomes the flexible nature of her role: “I like supporting and assisting other team members with their work on a daily basis, and I also like creating documents because it involves starting from nothing and developing something new and practical.”

Liv had a key role during the avian influenza outbreak in 2022 when several of their broiler farms were situated within the surveillance zones. She was responsible for liaising with transport managers and veterinary surgeons, and for obtaining transport licences.

“It was very challenging for all our teams, but through a positive attitude and ongoing support for our team members with their biosecurity practices we found a way to keep the farm operations as seamless as possible,” she said.

Providing opportunities in and out of schools

Experiencing for herself the opportunities the industry offers, Liv has ideas on how to make these more widely known.

She would encourage the industry to become more involved in careers open days at schools and colleges, and to provide opportunities for work experience through seasonal apprenticeships during the summer vacation.

She would use the training grant to further her knowledge of poultry welfare and particularly veterinary topics to help identify issues early and to take preventative action. 

Stephanie Pedrick

A career working with poultry never crossed the mind of Steph Pedrick when she left school planning a career in the leisure sector.

Her initial plan to be a swimming pool engineer came to a halt when she discovered an allergy to chlorine. She became a scuba diving instructor and worked around the world from the Canary Islands to Egypt and Malaysia, then spend five years in the recycling sector. It was only when she moved from urban life in Exeter to a country setting at Kentisbeare in Mid Devon that it occurred to her she might seek a new course in life.

A mile away was the P.D Hook (Hatcheries) Ltd and when she saw an operative’s job advertised she took up the opportunity.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Steph. “I became fascinated by the world of chicken and I’ve never looked back.”

Stephanie Pedrick, pictured crouched down in a broiler holding a hen

Passionate about welfare

After several years in the hatchery, she took up the role of poultry welfare compliance manager and earlier this year was promoted to area manager, now responsible for the company’s 12 farms and 112 contract growers producing four different types of broilers – standard, free range, organic and indoor RSPCA Assured.

“Bird welfare is always her main priority,” said Chris Chater, General Manager of Hook2Sisters at Cullompton.

“Steph displays great professionalism and excellent communication skills with a willingness to take on additional responsibilities and to go above and beyond.

“She is very good at assisting the farms to achieve good results and putting welfare to the forefront.”

Ricky Isley, tutor at Poultec Training

“With a strong commitment to learning and development, she is continually enhancing her skills and knowledge. She is an innovative problem solver who always finds creative solutions to complex challenges.

“The positive feedback from farm managers and contractors showcases her great customer service skills and fosters strong relationships.”

Introducing innovative solutions

Her desire to find creative solutions is illustrated by her approach to audits showing positive salmonella results from control rooms. She has introduced smoke bomb disinfection, which enables control panels to be treated without fear of causing damage and helps to eliminate the problem – an approach that has been adopted more widely by the company.

She has also introduced a new style of litter – paper crumb.

“I did a lot of research about the product and decided to trial it on two sites,” said Steph. “Now 12 months later we have it on all of our company farms as well as a few of the contract farms. The product has reduced hock and podo levels. The number of litter beetles has reduced and ammonia levels have dropped.”

Ricky Isley, her tutor at Poultec Training, said Steph has a keen interest in poultry science, welfare requirements and disease recognition.

“She is very good at assisting the farms to achieve good results and putting welfare to the forefront. She has always been keen to learn as much as she can and is really keen to progress within the industry.”

Continued professional development

She would use the training grant for a course on veterinary or nutritional aspects.

“With this knowledge I will be able to monitor the bird health and welfare more efficiently,” she adds. 

Emily Green

Brought up on pig farm in south Norfolk, Emily Green was always interested in animal wellbeing and asked for animals for birthdays ranging from geese to goats.

She began her career as an apprentice in business administration at Wayland Farms and broadened her experience in agriculture working in potatoes, pigs and herbs.

When Emily joined Crown Farms three years ago as a technical assistant within the supply chain she made an immediate impression, as broiler production manager Adrian Lawrence recalls.

“Early in her career with us Emily’s enthusiasm and hunger for development was evident and, with her thirst for knowledge and passion for her role, she soon became a driving force in the technical department – continuously seeking to update and develop policies and procedures.”

Emily Green, pictured in a broiler holding two chicks

Working under pressure

Then came the avian influenza pandemic, while Emily was still finding her feet within the industry.

“Emily was faced with an unprecedented level of avian flu in the heart of our operating area,” said Adrian Lawrence. “The challenges and pitfalls around licensing and bird movements she took in her stride, while providing a daily situation report to the Cranswick main board – all this and still continuing to maintain her high standards within her daily role.”

With movements in the technical team Emily found herself heading up the department in a role that included liaising with retailers. Having completed Level 3 training and gaining hands-on experience on a broiler farm, she is now broiler area manager, while retaining the role she loves leading retailer visits.

“I can hardly begin to imagine, with Emily’s drive and passion for the industry, where her future career may take her,” adds Mr Lawrence.

Her tutor Andy Gotts of Poultec Training spoke of her career blossoming as she progressed throughout her apprenticeship and took on her current role as broiler area manager within a very short time. He added: “Emily has a great career in front of her and will be at the forefront throughout.”

“I can hardly begin to imagine, with Emily’s drive and passion for the industry, where her future career may take her.”

Adrian Lawrence, broiler production manager

Looking out for others

With her experience during the AI pandemic and also countering activism on farms, she became fully aware of the need for staff to maintain mental wellbeing and enrolled on a course to become a mental health first aider with the charity YANA (You Are Not Alone).

“I have already used my training in the field and this brings me a great deal of personal reward that I can offer support to my network of colleagues,” said Emily.

Inspiring the next generation

She is well aware of the need to promote careers in the industry. Emily is seen at Young Farmers Clubs and local schools providing talks, and points to the company’s incentives to staff to encourage family and friends to look at careers within the business.

“I love to inspire the next generation,” she said. She would use the training grant to fund a study trip to the USA to visit Harrison Poultry, who visited Crown Farms last year to see their on-farm hatching system.

“I thoroughly enjoyed showing them around, and I was invited back to visit their business where I would have a particular interest in their deep litter system in broiler production,” she said.

This page was first published on 17 April 2024. It was updated on 16 May 2024.

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