Time to Reflect
At Hampshire Carp Hatcheries we have had the remarkable good fortune to have employed some outstanding individuals. Over the last 10 years we have had a stable workforce which has recently come to an end. Sadly Rob Malcolm left this Spring to run his family business in Kent and Mike Dibden is about to take up a post of river keeper on the River Itchen fullfilling a long held personal ambition.
With the breakup of the team it is cause for me to reflect on what made these individuals such fantastic employees.
What we do
To understand the qualities required it is necessary to have a brief look at what we do.
We are a 14 acre site with 40 ponds selling approximately 700,000 first and second year coarse and ornamental fish to the aquatic retail trade, to fisheries and to other ongrowers.
We sell 14 varieties of native and coloured coarse fish of 5 different sizes – 70 live products.
To make this happen, we have to manage our site, our equipment, our ponds and our stock to ensure we supply our products throughout the season. Perhaps an even greater challenge is the process of managing ourselves as individuals, each other in the team, the boss and all of our customers.
What we look for?
The nurture gene
Looking after over a million fishes’ lives makes fish husbandry our top priority. It’s vital that we are in tune with their welfare. The only way fish can communicate with us is through their behaviour. A great employee is constantly vigilant and responsive to the stock. This nuturing trait is often characterised in the individual. Perhaps it is no surprise that we do not only nurture fish on our site but also dogs, guinea fowl, chickens and wide varity of fruit and vegetables!
To carry out our production we need to run and maintain a lot of resources, machinery and equipment. Countryside and mechanical skills are a must.
There is no doubt that working in our environment is physically tough. Lugging heavy bins of fish in the cold, wet, mud are part and parcel of our day to day life. To survive you need to be strong, fit and healthy.
Attention to detail
To run a profitable farm you must operate at the top end of the capacity of the environment. This means that there is little margin for error and when things go wrong the repercussions are severe. Much of what we do on the farm requires a blend of skill and common sense. However, you quickly get found out with live stock. Overfeeding a pond, misidentifying a parasite or calculating the wrong dose rate can rapidly lead to problems.
Joie de Vivre
No we are not looking for someone who loves to party. Rather a person with a positive and enthusiastic nature that is companionable and a pleasure to work with. Our customers can be quite demanding and an ability to field their concerns and satisfy their urgent requests with composure is a great attribute.
So there you have it. Both Mike and Rob have big shoes to fill. We have been incredibily fortunate to have recruited Harry Ballard to the team earlier this year and he has fitted in like a duck to water.
We are also fortunate to enjoy close ties with Sparsholt College and are able to see the potential of their students when they visit for work experience.