'Rapt' with supreme title

Richard Cooley says he was "rapt, absolutely rapt" regarding the success of his company, NZ Purebred Pig Genetics, at the Stratford A&P; Show this year.

In particular he was "really pleased" to have his Berkshire Sow, Hillside Dove 2nd, win the coveted title of All Breeds Supreme Pig of the Show in the pig Royal event and then place runner-up in the Royal Agricultural Society Best Supreme Exhibit title.

Richard says "we took 50 pigs of four different breeds and ages and won 52 ribbons" at the show and that while he hadn't expected to win, "the chances are higher with the more you have entered", so he was confident that he had a fair chance.

Hillside Dove 2nd was due to have piglets on the Sunday, but Richard was confident she wasn't going to as "her udder wasn't hard so I knew she wasn't ready yet", and she eventually furrowed on the Monday night, producing ten piglets.

The next Royal show on the calendar for Richard and his father Jeff is in Palmerston North and they plan to enter that one with the hope of continuing their winning streak.

"We are off to Levin for a show in January as well," says Richard, who adds that it isn't really more work than a normal day at the piggery. "We just load them on to the truck, drive down, wash the pigs, then the next day oil them up ready to go in the show ring."

Richard was born in 1978, the same year that his father, Jeff, started working in pig farming, so "I have grown up in it," he says, adding that while he has tried his hand at dairy farming, it is pig farming that he prefers."It's more of an eight-to-five job than other farming, almost office hours."

Having worked for Midhirst pig farmer Eugene O'Sullivan for the past few years, Richard has taken the opportunity offered by Eugene's decision to sell, to take over the piggery at the start of this month.

"Here's a chance to do something", he says, "to focus on pedigrees and the market pigs and to make a go of it."

When asked if he would recommend the industry to others he says yes, providing "you've got the money behind you". He adds "it's a good industry, but it's a hard time for pig farmers, so without financial back up it can be a hard road".

With numerous wins at the shows this year, Richard is looking forward to next year, continuing the work he is doing, and hopefully bringing home more trophies and ribbons.

- Stratford Press

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