A View from My Window

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), July 20, 2002 | Go to article overview
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A View from My Window


Byline: KENNETH IRWIN, Irwin Animal Feeds

THE dictionary defines the word 'Observation' as the act of taking notice, seeing and noting.

Thomas Hardy wrote:

"An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,

In blast-be ruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

Upon the growing gloom.''

He obviously noticed more than the average person when he saw the little bird in the depth of winter.

One of the features that divide an excellent farmer from an ordinary one is skill in observation. A good stockman will see signs of sickness or restlessness in an animal and nip it in the bud long before others find it dead.

Have you ever despaired of the lack of observation skills in the younger generation? It has been the same down through the years and yet the children have grown up, gained experience and complained about their own offspring not noticing the finer important details.

The reason that I am writing about observation is because we had an inspector in the other day. He was auditing our firm under the UKASTA Feed Assurance Scheme. This combines an ISO9000-quality system with a fully-implemented and operational HACCP system, ensuring the safety of the food product. The aim is to consistently produce feeds of the highest nutritional and quality standards.

The auditor was very observant. Noticing things, which we had walked past for years and had not really 'seen'. For example, a molasses tank without a lock on it, or a hole in a documented procedure. One of the good things about inspections like this is it teaches us to be more careful and to realise the dangers of assuming others will be as particular as we are.

You don't need to be very observant to see the bad press that farmers are getting at the moment, eg 'Scandal of the untagged pig' and 'An end to the mass slaughter.' The British public are being brainwashed into believing that only farmers were to blame for last year's Foot-and-Mouth disaster and to pave the way for a vaccination policy.

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