Can you tell us more about yourself and your journey so far?
My name is Alan Hughes, I am the Director of Farming Solutions LTD and a 5th generation farmer, engineer and inventor, who put his family herd TB free within 6 months of a TB breakdown, with homemade biosecurity in 2010.
Since then, I have strived to improve farm biosecurity to reduce the spread of TB in cattle, with quality proven biosecurity products.
In 2014 The TB Buster was successfully, scientifically tested by The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) of Cirencester.
(Throughout the duration of the three-month trial, badgers were found to be unable to access the mineral lick holder held by the TB Buster, whereas badgers regularly accessed a conventional mineral lick bucket. Additionally, the trial established that once secured, the TB Buster can withhold substantial interaction from cattle, including cattle leaning against the stand and using it as a scratching post. Dr Rhiannon Fisher, project leader and lecturer in Rural Land Use and Management at the RAU, said “This was a very interesting study and provides evidence of an effective measure that can be used by farmers to reduce contact between badgers and cattle on grazing land.”)
In 2014 after the RAU trial, Hartpury college contacted me because their farm went down with TB and requested a TB Buster, a Rumenco Badger Beater and a IAE Badger Defence Feed Trough for a trail and study of TB Biosecurity. James Papworth was the man in charge of the testing with night vision cameras and monitoring the badger activity. His tests concluded that the TB Buster was badger proof and easy to move, while cattle could not damage it.
With regards to the other Mineral Bucket Stands, the Rumenco Badger Beater was badger proof, but easily tipped over by cattle which removed the badger proof element, and was very difficult to move without machinery and multiple people due to its weight around 100kg.
Lastly, that the IAE Badger Proof Trough was mostly badger proof at purchase, but badgers learned to climb over the corner of the feeder where there were no rollers and the cattle bent one roller that had to be replaced, as the badgers were getting into the feeder over the bent roller. After a year of use, the bearings rusted and stopped all the rollers turning easily and the feeder was then not badger proof at all.
In 2016, I started manufacturing the Quick Pullers Staple Puller that can remove 6 staples in 20 seconds. So far, we have sold over 8000 Quick Pullers in the UK, to over 80 companies including Mole Valley and Wynnstay.
As a result of noticing the poor quality of creep feeders on the market and that none were badger proof, in 2016 I started work on a Badger Proof Creep Feeder that actually works.
The Quick puller got first place in The 2017 Farmers Weekly, Innovation Awards and the TB Busters Badger Proof Mineral Bucket Stand had second place at The 2017 Farmers Weekly, Innovation Awards and is the only proven biosecurity measure to stop badgers eating mineral buckets, that cattle can easily eat out of, but cannot push over.
Our new Universal Creep Feeder was placed runner up in The 2021 Farmers Weekly Innovation Awards and second place at the 2020 TB Advisory Service Awards for innovation, with its ability to change height to feed any type or age of livestock, while reducing the spread of TB.
I won The University of Lincoln AgriTech Accelerator powered by Barclays Eagle Labs with our new Universal Creep Feeder design, which was a huge honour and a big surprise, since there was stiff competition from 11 other innovative companies.
All our products are internationally patented or patent pending and we are constantly developing new products in R&D to improve livestock’s health at pasture.