Richard Mellor, centre, receives the overall producer of the year award from Jonathan Farnhill, business unit director ForFarmers, and Charlotte Smith, BBC Radio 4 Farming Today.

West Norfolk farmers Richard and Charlotte Mellor have been crowned Pig Producer of the Year at the 2017 National Pig Awards.

The couple are tenants of a farm on the Norfolk County Council-owned County Farms estate and won both Outdoor Pig Producer and Overall Pig Producer of the Year categories at the awards ceremony at The Lancaster Hotel in London.

It is the first time the overall category has been won by an outdoor farm.

The R & C Mellor farm spans 361 acres of land on Grange Farm at Crimplesham and they have been tenants since 2013.

Charlotte Mellor said: “We were thrilled when we got this county council-owned estate, and it has enabled us to do more with our business. We have the freedom to do things the way we want and it allows us to invest in the farm itself.

“This award is welcome recognition of the hard work Richard and I have been doing since we moved in 2013. Our pigs are the core of our business and the most stable part of what we do, so it was such a pleasant shock when we heard we’d won the Producer of the Year award.

“Here at Grange Farm we’re more in control of the pigs and where they go, which means we’re able to keep them on grass, benefiting the pigs themselves and improving quality. All of this helped us win this award.”

Keith Kiddie, chairman of the county council’s business and property committee, said: “This award is a glowing commendation for Richard and Charlotte, and yet another addition to the achievements of our County Farms tenants.

“Norfolk’s agricultural success is something to be proud of and something that Norfolk County Council is keen to continue to help strengthen. Through the County Farms estate we aim to provide the opportunity for farmers like Richard and Charlotte to succeed and grow their business.”

One of the key performance indicators for a pig farm is the number of piglets that are weaned per sow.

The Mellors’ 950-sow unit averages 29 pigs per sow, while a typical outdoor unit averages considerably less.

This has put them on a par with the best indoor pig breeders nationally.

The judges were also impressed with their desire to keep equipment up-to-date to ensure the sows were kept in the best possible conditions.