From left to right; Robin Neal, David Neal, Martyn Neal and William Neal
My career goes back to the “old days” starting in 1961 in pig farming. From general roles on a number of farms I progressed to Manager at Johnny Roberts for 2 ½ years. Then in 1968 I moved my family to Great Bradley farms, near Newmarket as Manager on the 80 sow unit which over 21 years expanded up to a 600 sow finishing unit. In 1989 I decided with my wife Patricia to start our own business outside Ipswich. We purchased 200 sows, producing weaners and selling them through Yorkshire Farmers based at Malton. We continued to manage this unit for 9 years until we had to sell due to ill-health. We have since retired to Ipswich Town. (We sadly lost Grandad in 2019)
My pig career started at a very early age (approx. 8) when my father would wake me by kicking my bed shouting “time for work!” which was most weekends and holidays! This continued until I was sixteen for no payment!
On leaving school, I worked with my father at Great Bradley for 10 years, then decided it was time to move on, having gained the experience needed to move into management for myself. Initially I managed indoor units of various sizes. I then had the opportunity to go to Eire to manage a 1200 sow outdoor unit. This, unluckily, was located on a peat bog and as we all know a very wet climate. Challenging but enjoyable with gaining great experience.
In 1991 we moved back to East Lexham, England managing a 500 sow indoor breeding herd happily for nearly six years. New opportunities then arose. Me and my family were to up-sticks yet again to Sedgefield (2 years), then Meriden (6 years) and onto Stamford, Farmers Weekly Easton Lodge for two great years, where I was then enticed up to Yorkshire for 7 ½ years as Production Manager for Dent Limited.
Like my father, at the age of 50, I thought it was about time I become my own boss, and Rent a Sty Limited was born.
I have been around pigs practically from the day I was born! My first real experience was when I was 5 years old when we lived in Mullingar, Ireland. I helped on most weekends, but most of the memories were of going for a cooked breakfast afterwards at café Jacks!
We moved back to England when I was 7 years old. My weekend work continued, helping my Dad. When we moved to Sedgefield (11-13 years of age) I was then working most weekends and holidays, doing just about every job apart from driving vehicles. I was kindly paid by my dad, which enabled me to have my first Leeds United FC season ticket! From there we moved to Meriden for 5 1/2 years and I continued part time pig work whilst in full time education.
When we moved to Stamford, Lincs, I was unable to work with my Dad at the Farmers Weekly unit he was running, but I was able to go out and make a living for myself; firstly as a fish monger at WM Morrison's for a year, then with Tarmac for a year, building terraces for Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. We then moved to Yorkshire….
I joined my Dad at Dent Limited; the first year involved learning the ropes as an outdoor stock man on various units in Yorkshire. I eventually had the opportunity to manage a unit myself, which became the biggest outdoor unit in the UK, with 5000 sows, as well as assisting in the daily running of other farms. I then undertook a Leadership Development course, which led me to develop a “new outdoor weaning technique” (which was part of my final presentation) and was submitted on the Bepex website and in Pig World magazine.
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