Stephanie Pedrick, who made a major career change when she took a job in a Devon poultry hatchery, is the winner of the 2023 Zoetis-NFU Poultry Trainee Award presented at the British Pig and Poultry Fair at the NEC Birmingham.

From being a scuba diving instructor around the world and working in recycling, she took a job at the Kentisbeare hatchery of P D Hook (Hatcheries) and has progressed to become south west area manager for Hook2Sisters responsible for more than 100 contract and company farms. 

See also: £22m of grant funding announced for hen and pullet farmers

“I became fascinated by the world of chicken, and I’ve never looked back,” she said. 

The judges from Zoetis and the National Farmers Union were inspired by the approach of Stephanie Pedrick towards the sector.

“We were extremely impressed by Stephanie’s genuine enthusiasm and excitement towards the poultry industry,” said John Kenyon. 

Worthwhile career

“These qualities have helped her build her career and progress into management in relatively few years. Stephanie is keen to encourage others to look towards the poultry industry for a worthwhile career.”

NFU poultry adviser Tom Glen added: “The calibre of all three finalists was extremely high, so picking a winner was a difficult decision for the panel.

“We were particularly impressed by Stephanie’s thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm for the poultry sector, as well as her approach to problem-solving to continuously improve the welfare and performance of the birds in her care.”

Good results

Her tutor at Poultec Training, Ricky Isley, commented on her interest in poultry science, welfare and disease recognition: “She is very good at assisting farms to achieve good results and putting welfare to the forefront.”

The prize includes a £1,000 training grant sponsored by Zoetis, which Stephanie says will be used towards a veterinary or nutritional course that will enable more efficient monitoring of bird health and welfare.

For the other finalists poultry was not their initial career choice either.

Runners up

Emily Green, broiler area manager with Crown Farms in Suffolk, started training in business administration and joined the firm as a technical assistant three years ago.  She has a particular interest in mental wellbeing and is training to be a mental first aider with the charity YANA.

Olivia Robinson started training for a career in production arts for live shows before she met her partner who was working for Annyalla Chicks in Yorkshire. 

Olivia began on a broiler growing site four years ago and is now the group’s Compliance and Poultry Welfare Manager. 

She advocates seasonal apprenticeships during the summer vacation to provide work experience opportunities.

All the finalists attended the NFU conference in Birmingham in February and will also receive guest invites to the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference at the Celtic Manor Hotel, Newport, in the autumn.