Dominic Lucas, production manager with Avara Foods, was presented with the 2022 Zoetis-NFU poultry trainee Award at the National Farmers’ Union annual conference at Birmingham, this week.
After growing up on a smallholding managing sheep, Dominic studied for a degree in agriculture at Harper Adams University and spent his placement year at Cargill as the British Poultry Council scholar.
He returned to Avara Foods on its graduate programme working on a broiler breeder rearing site for 50,000 parent stock. He then moved into broilers and became manager of its Parkway Farm with 230,000 broilers where he produced its highest margins and two crops with an EPEF over 420 – the highest scores on record there.
Just as he was settling into this role, an opportunity arose in the contract production management team where he is now responsible for 28 farms within the broiler grower base, building the company’s relationship with the farms and helping to improve bottom quartile performance.
He has benefited from a wide range of training from various providers including Poultec on practical and people skills in the company’s graduate programme. Currently he is undertaking his ILM level 5 in leadership and management.
Jamie Shattock, regional manager for broilers at Avara Foods, stated: “Dominic is a highly credible, well grounded person who has achieved a great deal at Avara and is an exemplary role model for the younger farming generation. He demonstrates pride in what he does and wishes to impart that on to others he is training. I believe Dominic is an ambassador for the future of the poultry industry.”
In using the £2,000 training grant sponsored by Zoetis, Dominic expressed a desire to travel to a country that grows chickens in a hot climate to understand how they deal with the conditions so lessons can be learned on how to cope with extreme temperature as experienced in the UK last summer. He has also identified several courses in Belgium this autumn on specific aspects of bird health and management.
The award judges were John Kenyon and Lucy Berriman of Zoetis, and Liz Warner and Jo Travis of the National Farmers’ Union.
James Porritt, Zoetis national pig and poultry manager, said he is increasingly impressed by the high standard of entries for the award now in its 16th year.
“The next generation – and their teachers and advisers – are often not aware of the broad range of opportunities in the modern poultry industry to progress training and develop worthwhile, rewarding careers. The poultry industry has made great strides forward in recent years and needs many more high calibre new entrants to maintain this momentum.”
Aimee Mahony, NFU chief poultry adviser, said: “The NFU is proud to continue supporting this important award for the industry and providing opportunities for the next generation to make their mark on the future of the poultry sector.
“We have already seen talented individuals progress from winning the training grant to becoming key members of the industry and we are committed to continuing our support for future ambassadors of the poultry sector.”
The other finalists are Veronica Crawford of The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, Penrith, Cumbria, and Rebecca Goodings of Noble Foods, Lincoln. All the finalists attended the NFU Conference and are also invited as guests to the Egg & Poultry Industry Conference at the Celtic Manor Hotel, Newport in the autumn – a new feature of the award.