Innovative thinkers wanted – UK feed manufacturer ‘throwing open’ the doors to the industry

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Highwaystarz-Photography
© GettyImages/Highwaystarz-Photography

Related tags next generation graduate job market Pig Poultry

ABN, the UK manufacturer of pig and poultry feed, says it is working hard to encourage the next generation to move into the industry and, in that context, is offering scholarship placements of 12-months duration to UK two university students.

The scheme is run in conjunction with Harper Adams University.

Danny Johnson, commercial director at ABN, told us it collaborates with that education institution as it is “the leading specialist university which focuses on the future of food production, processing and animal sciences – topics which are of huge importance to ABN, its customers and the industry.”

A placement is required as part of every degree at Harper Adams.

The selected students will learn the practical day-to-day operations of a working farm, before moving in-house into ABN for the remaining months where they will gain experience in many aspects of the business, including customer support, nutrition and formulation - experience that is so sought after in the increasingly competitive graduate job market, said the company.

“We want to offer students the opportunity to gain insight into a real business, giving them a chance to explore an industry they are passionate about and put what they’ve learnt in lectures, into practice," ​said Johnson.

Recruitment opportunities 

He said students on these placements sometimes get hired full-time by ABN afterwards:

“Students have the chance to work with other companies that operate under AB Agri, ABN’s parent company, in order to broaden their understanding of the industry. This means they are often attracted to our graduate scheme and become full time employees.”

Shona Crawford-Smith joined ABN’s graduate scheme in 2016 after completing the placement, and is now a commercial analyst for ABN, working as part of Total Farm Performance team, leading innovation in the industry, said Johnson.

She said: “I think the scholarship program is a fantastic gateway into the industry for young, talented students who wish to start a career in the pig or poultry industry. As well as learning valuable things about the business and wider industry, schemes like these are a great opportunity to meet like-minded young people. I developed an extensive range of knowledge and skills and was delighted to be offered a position with ABN following my graduate scheme, which has enabled me to progress into a role that I thoroughly enjoy and am passionate about.” 

Innovative thinkers

ABN said it is looking for team players and innovative thinkers and in return, the successful applicants for these two placements will experience an invaluable year which will build their knowledge of the pig and poultry industries and key business competencies.

During the 12-month placement, the two students will receive:

  • A competitive salary of £16,500
  • 25 days of annual leave
  • Line management and mentoring

The industry has a responsibility to work with schools and colleges to educate young people, said Johnson.

“We believe it’s important for us, and businesses like ours, to be doing what we can to make young people aware of the huge range of opportunities and careers available to them within the industry.

“By running graduate schemes and placements like these, we hope that we’re throwing open the doors to the industry and helping them progress with whatever their agricultural passion may be.”

David Tunks is completing a poultry industry placement with ABN currently; he said he chose this scheme as it places "a lot of focus on teaching us the science behind why we do, what we do. All my peers have worked on farms before, but this placement shows you there is more than meets the eye on-farm, and gives you a chance to do a lot more of the technical aspects. It has been hugely beneficial to my poultry knowledge so far and I can’t wait to get stuck into what the rest of the placement involves."


There are two industry scholarship placements available for next year, one in the pig sector and one in the poultry sector. The ABN poultry industry placement runs for 52 weeks starting from July 2020. The student will be based at a customer farm for the first three months, followed by three months at Sullivan Poultry Group, finishing with six months at ABN head office.

The ABN pig industry placement is of the same duration with the student spending six months at Ermine Farms, followed by six months at ABN head office, said the company. 

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