Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A day in the life of AHDB Beef & Lamb's south east regional manager

We invited Nerys Wright, regional manager for the south east/east, to write a guest blog this week, outlining her role and some of the challenges she faces.

The job of the AHDB Beef & Lamb regional team is very varied and no two weeks are ever the same. It's the variation of the job that keeps me on my toes.

A key role we play in the team is stakeholder and levy payer engagement. It's our responsibility to pass on information about what we are doing across the organisation to levy payers and there are many ways in which we do this.

We attend NFU livestock board meetings, speak at local discussion groups, write articles in local publications and conduct face-to-face meetings and phone conversations. The kind of information we share covers everything from promotional consumer work that helps to drive meat sales, market intelligence information on subjects like prices and industry trends and knowledge exchange events on farm.

As the regional contact for beef and sheep farmers, you never know what the next phone call will be about. It can be a practical question on feeding ewes, a query about the price of beef, or advice on where to find information on direct-selling meat.

In the south east, a key part of my job is working with my colleagues in the AHDB France office in Fontainebleau. France is a key export market for us and the close proximity to the South East region means we often host French meat buyers, supermarket representatives and even journalists.

Nerys welcomes French agricultural journalists to a Kent farm to demonstrate how high quality beef from England is produced. Her colleague from the AHDB France office, Remy Fourrier, is on the far left.
The group visit Ashford livestock market
For this we need local contacts and often take our visitors around supermarkets, farms and eateries in my region where they can sample high quality beef and lamb from England.

Coming from a technical sheep background, I have always been very hands-on, so a secondary part of my role is delivering technical sheep meetings on a variety of topics, from ewe nutrition to sheep lameness and, my current favourite, body condition scoring. Last year at a sheep event in Malvern I even presented a short video demonstrating how to check body condition scores.

Most of the events are within my region, but occasionally I am allowed out of the sunny south east and east, and I head back to cooler parts of England with more rain and more grass! I’m not sure if it’s my age but wrestling 80kg ewes and even heavier rams whilst condition scoring or doing ram MOT events is leaving me with more bruises than ever before (my dad would say I'm getting soft!).

To expand my knowledge further, I’m also studying part time for a PhD on ewe body condition scoring and the impact it has on the weight of weaned lamb per ewe. This is a four-year project working closely with three farms in England, industry experts such as Lesley Stubbings and The University of Nottingham.

To summarise, my role as the point of contact for farmers in the east and south east of the country is hard work, but I enjoy working with producers in the region to help the beef and sheep meat supply chain to become more efficient. I even have the bruises to prove it!
Contact Nerys:
Tel: 01480 482981

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