The 3rd Aviagen Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) production management school breeder module has taken place in Edinburgh this September. Entitled ‘Optimising PS performance and Economic Returns’, the week-long school was attended by 36 participants from 20 countries.
This diversity was enhanced by the different levels of experience and specialities each of the representatives brought to the school; these ranged from doctors of veterinary medicine who have worked in the industry for over thirty five years to recent graduates involved at general management level on a family farm.
Students were taught in a classroom environment using a highly interactive case study of a hypothetical company called Gallus Alba Kft, for which each attendee, working within a small team, was responsible for. The week's workshop was based around investigating breeder performance and trouble shooting a number of technical problems and developing a strategy to improve both breeder and financial performance. Teams were tutored by Aviagen and external industry specialists in the areas of ventilation, flock health, nutrition, data analysis, rearing and laying management. The specialists provided in-depth management experience to allow the students to investigate the technical issues while developing their improvement strategy.
The classic learning cycle to maximise the absorption of new knowledge is Tell -> show -> do -> apply. This format offered participants the opportunity to learn by doing, as well as by listening, which means that the new skills they acquired during the EMEA school can be applied directly back to the workplace.
Aviagen's global technical service teams work closely with customers and those having attended the Aviagen School to further reinforce the learning points as they apply them in their working environment.
In order to get their hypothetical company back on the straight and narrow, support sessions discussing a number of key tools and techniques were provided. These included:
Lindsay Broadbent, Aviagen Technical Service Manager, on the "Evolution of Parent Stock (PS) management" and the fundamentals of achieving maximum fertility.Martyn Dickinson, Operations Training Manager, opened the third day by leading a session on Presentation Skills aimed at influencing senior management to implement management changes.
Attendees also heard from experienced poultry consultant and former top student Martin Rishøj who attended the school two years ago. Martin was invited back to speak about key profit drivers and investing in the future through the synergy of technology, good stockmanship and well trained and motivated staff.
Half day technical tutorials covered the key elements of breeder management; ventilation, health, nutrition, profit drivers and management. Each of the six student teams spent a half day at the Aviagen Vet Lab covering vaccination methods and practical post mortem techniques.
The final day saw all the information come together as part of a plan to turn around the fortunes of the fictional case study company. The teams applied the techniques and knowledge they had picked up in the week along with the shared experiences of their team mates to present their improvement strategy of the hypothetical company. Tutors and colleagues gave feedback and the yellow team consisting of Sophie Hope, Charlie Bloomer, Colin Thompson, Adrian Gavin, Leslie Wasson and Margaret McGrane was announced the winner.
Adrian Gavin, Technical Advisor, Moy Park, commented: "There was great satisfaction to be part of the winning team and a good sense of achievement. The week is very intense with a lot of highs and lows and being named the winning team makes it all worthwhile and a memory I will cherish."
Nick Spenceley, who leads the Aviagen EMEA School, said:"This week was about learning from each other as well as from tutors. The six key areas of breeder management that the syllabus focuses on were identified during customer visits by our technical teams across the EMEA region. Those were real live experiences for the students and the topics of the programme aimed to help them in their day to day work.
"There is no doubt that the week is tough and becomes very competitive but it is rewarding to see everyone enjoying the challenges while having a lot of fun. The course is an ideal opportunity to build friendships through the contacts made.
"The formal lectures only took one hour each day; the rest of the sessions were interactive dialog and sharing of experiences for participants to lean on the experience of their fellow professionals. The small tutorials combined the energy and enthusiasm of those new to the industry with those who are very pleased to share their own depth of knowledge acquired over many years of experience. Everyone was here to learn, expand their skill set and ultimately improve the business they work in."
Colin Thompson, Area Manager, Moy Park, commented: "The opportunity to put together a business plan by combining both the biological as well financial aspects of the business is very real in today's global agriculture, whether it is to lift a flagging company or to develop an expansion programme. I now look forward to identifying future opportunities where I will be able to add my contribution to such a programme."
Charlie Bloomer, Bybrook Agriculture Ltd, added: "Coming from a family run business, almost all I learnt on the course I can apply back to our business in one way or another. More importantly it has taught me a lot which I can put into practice. I find that understanding why we do certain daily routines and why it so important has motivated me further which in turn I can pass on to our employees,. I would recommend this course to anyone, at entry level or with years under their belt, it just shows you are never too old to learn!"