A Norfolk pig farmer who built a successful pork business from scratch has been hailed as the best in the country.

Guy King was named Pig Farmer of the Year at the 2023 Farmers Weekly Awards, winning praise for his "passion for developing his business and commitment to the environment".

When he left school, he was earning £21 per week on a youth training scheme while he learned the basics of pig husbandry.

He also picked up valuable lessons from outside farming, working as a mechanic and a builder before setting up his own company, GSK Pigs, in 2005.

And with "plenty of drive and determination" he has built up the business and now has 8,600 sows across nine outdoor units in Norfolk and Suffolk, employing nearly 60 staff.

After receiving his award, he said: "After 40 years of hard work, this means the world to me.

"I am quite emotional about the whole thing. I set out in my career with a view to just working with livestock. I never set out to achieve these heady heights.

"Once I started, I realised I was good at this job, and I could make a difference in the pig industry. But to get here and win this award - it has just not really sunk in yet. It is amazing." 

Mr King, 54, lives at Lexham, near Swaffham, but his home unit, from which the business grew, is based at Guist, near Fakenham.

Most of his pigs are supplied into grower units run by major pork producers BQP, but he has also partnered with a rare breeds farm near Holt, with the meat butchered locally. 

In addition, Greenlane Organics, a 400-sow farrow-to-finish setup at Sandringham, is run on behalf of the Organic Pig Company, producing pork for Waitrose.

To reduce his farms' environmental impact, Mr King has introduced grass leys in pig paddocks which has improved soil condition, lowered the risk of run-off and pollution into watercourses, and cooled the ground temperature in the summer.

Awards judge Charlie Dewhirst, senior policy adviser for the National Pig Association, said: "Guy impressed us with his passion for developing his business and commitment to the environment.

"His unit was very well run by a team of dedicated staff who are achieving impressive health and welfare outcomes."