Jonathan Bowen, who began to work with poultry little over three years ago after starting his career in the Royal Navy, is the 2018 winner of the Zoetis / British Poultry Council Trainee Award.
He was presented with the award by the Farming Minister George Eustice at the annual BPC awards ceremony at the House of Commons this week attended by more than 150 senior figures from the UK poultry industry. The award includes a £2000 training grant from Zoetis and a £500 cash prize.
Jonathan Bowen, who lives at Billinghay, Lincolnshire, started with Moy Park on one of their parent stock farms at Anwick in Lincolnshire, where he became assistant manager on a 48,000-bird broiler breeder production farm. Then in July he took up a new position with Cobb Europe as relief team leader working on grandparent and great grandparent farms to provide additional support or to run them in the absence of the manager.
He completed NVQ level 3 in poultry management three weeks before joining Cobb, and was immediately nominated for a Poultec Training award for agriculture. “I went on to win the Chris Coleman Award and for me personally it cemented my decision to proceed in my career within the poultry industry,” he said.
Dominic Smith, Cobb Europe UK senior production manager, said: “At Cobb we are keen to identify and develop talent. When we interviewed Jonathan he was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but recognised he still has a lot to learn. We knew at once he would be a great fit for our culture.
“Jonathan’s previous experience has made him practically minded and not afraid to get his hands dirty. His great attitude means that he can adapt to all environments, people enjoy him being around and respect him as a leader within our production team. He has a bright future at Cobb and we look forward to seeing him grow his career with us.”
In his naval career he undertook Edexcel BTEC and CMI qualifications in management. Now he plans to use the grant to enrol on a distance-learning degree level course in poultry management.
“This will greatly help me progress further,” he added. “I’ve only been within the industry for a little over three years, so to achieve something like this will, I believe, greatly improve my chances of being able to breakthrough into a senior position within the industry.”
The other finalists, who also attended the presentation where the winner was announced, are Damian Dzidek, internal auditor at two Aviagen hatcheries at Stratford, Warwickshire, and Sam Whitmore, farm manager with Gressingham Foods in Suffolk.
Damian Dzidek, who lives at Lower Quinton, near Stratford-upon-Avon, also moved into the poultry industry as a career change after coming to the UK from Poland 11 years ago and working as a supervisor in a convenience store. He joined Aviagen three years ago, gained his poultry passport and within eight months was promoted to work in quality assurance as a co-ordinator.
Sam Whitmore, who lives at Ipswich, Suffolk, gained a placement with Gressingham Foods during a degree course in agriculture at Harper Adams University. He returned to Gressingham Foods as a graduate agricultural manager working with ducks and in September was promoted to run a free range farm with 22,000 bronze turkeys for Christmas as well as covering a turkey brooding unit over the weekend.
“The poultry industry is providing bright new opportunities for people like Jonathan and Damian coming from other sectors and looking to make a fresh start to their career,” said James Porritt, Zoetis poultry manager for the UK and Ireland. “Too many people outside the poultry sector are just not aware of the excellent career opportunities it offers – and not just for school leavers.”