Castleisland pig farmer wins European award for innovation

Shane McAuliffe, from Castleisland has been chosen as an ‘EU Pig Ambassador’ after winning in the 2019 EU PiG Grand Prix for his work in community management. The Grand Prix is an annual competition which aims to identify and share innovative practices in pig production throughout the European network of pig producers, and beyond. 

There are four key production themes which are identified as the main focus area for pig producers; health management, meat quality, animal welfare and precision production. There are eight challenges each year and the European wide network collates and shares knowledge and best practice to help address them. Teagasc, the Irish partner, submitted an application for the ‘Opening farms to the public’ challenge which detailed Shane’s commitment to educating the public about pig production.  

McAuliffe Pig Farms have featured on numerous national television programmes, including RTE’s ‘Big Week On The Farm’ where 1.5 million live viewers tuned in. Shane has an open door policy which welcomes international groups and local students to gain a valuable insight into sustainable pig meat production in Ireland. The high health status of the pig herd means that direct access is not always possible so visitors are taken up to the viewing room where they can look down onto the pigs, and into each room by live CCTV cameras. He also gives guest lectures at numerous third level institutions around Ireland and uses videos to give students an interactive tour of the farm. Numerous agricultural and veterinary medicine students are regularly hosted for work placement and accommodation is also provided to them if necessary. Shane also finds social media to be a very effective tool for reaching consumers and has a following of almost 10,000 across various social media channels. 

Ciaran Carroll, Head of Knowledge Transfer at the Teagasc Pig Development Department said;’’Congrats to Shane on becoming a EU PIG Ambassador. This is our second ambassador in three years of the project and it’s great to see Irish farms at the forefront of this broad network, involving 19 organisations from 13 EU member states”.

The EU PiG project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. 

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