Tag Archives: Poultry

Clair Doan’s Video Blog: UK, Holland & Germany #Nuffield16 

Sharing my Nuffield experience is a personal goal and commitment I made during the application process one year ago. Despite having a particular topic in which I will focus my final report, there have been many fascinating people and businesses I have met along the way. Attempting to condense 11 days of meetings into 4.5 minutes at the same time as providing substance beyond a photo montage was not easy. I hope you will take the time to watch and even watch a second time as I think there is some interesting information. As for the music? I have been travelling for a few weeks now with Zac Brown Band providing the tunes, or at least in between my satellite navigation system getting me around Europe! 

If you have any questions or feedback, I would be pleased to discuss what I have experienced. 

Clair Doan’s Nuffield Travels Through UK, Holland & Germany

An Ode To Nuffield Hosts #Nuffield16

 
Being a foreign visitor, meeting interesting and diverse people can be a challenge because there is an abundance of data, risk they will tell you what you want to hear and not always the reality. People are proud by nature! At times, the Nuffield traveling study component can be somewhat of a race, however I am very greatfull to my Dutch hosts who welcomed me into their homes, families and busy lives. Dutch Nuffield Scholars, Ruben van Boekel and Roy Tomesen allowed me into their homes for six days, to operate as a makeshift base. However, it isn’t just a bed to use, but the conversations about community, culture and local agriculture issues that provide a sound framework to compare, contrast and double check some of the facts and figures. 

Ruben van Boekel and his partner Lonneke van den Brand are from the small village of Overasselt. Ruben is an agriculture journalist focussed on pork production, in addition works with his family on a 500 sow farm where half the pigs are finished and the balance sold at 20kgs. The world is very small, Ruben’s cousin (3rd or 4th) is my hog producing neighbour with the same family name. Lonneke works as a recruiter in the financial sector which has similarities to recruitment strategies that my wife Kathryn and I discuss at home. On my first night in Holland, Ruben had me in the barn talking production, planning and how they deal with manure.

Roy Tomesen and his wife Maud, have two young boys, Job (6) and Huub (4), the same age as my two oldest daughters. They live on the edge of the Doetinchem, a city of about 50,000 people. Roy’s family has been in the egg business for over 50 years where he has purchased the business from his parents. The farm consistis of 120,000 layers, all in an aviary system, 50,000 of the brown eggs remain in the Netherlands and the balance are white eggs, exported to Germany. Expasion is in the plans for Roy and Maud with a new project starting next week where 40,000 aviary birds, equipped with a ‘winter garden’ will be situated on 1.5ha.

It was in Roy’s on farm egg shop that I saw the self serve egg vending machines, that was a first for me. By explaining firsthand the challenges of balancing low margins and intensive production, this quote that remains in my mind “in cages you manage the birds, but with aviary, the birds manage you” 

 

Many of my friends, family and colleagues have questioned what its like staying in strangers homes.  However I am quick to correct them insisting we are only strangers to a point, but rather we are part of a network with common goals of agriculture and personal development and have embraced a certain mindset. My visits this week will be repaid later in the year when each of Ruben and Roy plan to visit Canada.

The best part of staying with Dutch farmers is there is a tendency of being thrifty (being realistic, Dutch can be cheap). So when I requested a couple of extra nights, it all worked out, and they would have thought poorly of spending unnecessary money!

Ruben and Roy deserve real credit in helping me with my agenda. They connected me with Dutch turkey farmers, Rondeel and an egg grading business, plus the local dairy farm visits. In addition, each of their own farms serve as unique businesses looking to survive in the low cost, intensive Dutch model of agriculture.

But culture is important was well, the coffee, and more coffee, food, some Dutch beer and recommendations of Keukenhof and the World War 2 Memorials made the trip complete.

So to my Dutch hosts and friends, Ruben, Lonneke, Roy and Maud; thank you. Travelling alone can be a strange situation, but having familiar faces at the end of the day makes the world a little smaller.

  

 

A Nuffield Scholar’s Agenda, #Nuffield16

Opening new doors has opened my mind through Nuffield, but this doesn’t just happen, it occurs because of a willingness of people to meet, share and engage about their business and personal experiences. Many of you have asked about my agenda while travelling abroad, so here is a summary from the three days in the UK this week.

John Alliston, Former Dean, Nuffield Alumni, Royal Agricultural University

  • Agriculture education, relevancy and attracting talent to the sector
  • Historical walk down memory lane connecting with profs from my time in ’99-‘00
  • Leadership in agriculture; John coaches, promotes and encourages continuous learning

Martin Waite, Regional Manager – Agricultural Mortgage Company, Division of Lloyds Banking

  • On farm debt levels, ratios and ability to react in volatile markets
  • A comparison of UK vs CDN ag banking systems
  • Farmers focus on risk mitigation through the use of fixed rate 30 & 40 year loans

Malcom, Liz and Tom Hughes – Salford Lodge Farm, 600,000 Unit Broiler & Diversified Farm

  • An evolution from converting turkey production to broiler chickens
  • The continuous improvement of poultry housing, meeting a growing demand for product
  • Understanding the business cash flows, including turnover of barns every 7 weeks
  • UK chicken: windows, campylobacter, marketing and a need to comply

Richard Hutchinson – Sales & Marketing Director – Europe, Aviagen Turkeys

  • The future of European turkey production evolving with changing demands and markets
  • Opportunities and challenges in growth segments of turkey domestically and abroad
  • A balancing act of expanding markets while adhering to the genetic research, development and time invested

Dan Roberts – Area Farm Manager Supervisor, Faccenda Foods

  • A randomized connection through the Nuffield/Social Media network
  • Mutual exchange around the benefits of the professional development, especially Nuffield
  • Talking production, logistics and farm management of corporate owned poultry units

Burgess Adams – Adams Turkey Farm, 6 shed, 24,000-unit turkey grow out farm

  • Commercial turkey production grown from 5 to 19 weeks of aged, brooded offsite, utilizing the Grader Maker variety
  • 22 years of turkey experience working with at least three processors as the industry evolved through stagnant and even shrinking market growth
  • Being on site and in the barn was a terrific experience to witness the small things; bale carriers, radiated heat and assessing litter quality

Alastair West – Senior Category Manager, Poultry – Faccenda Foods

  • Fascinating to actually have a turkey product specialist go through the steps needed to develop and launch a new product
  • Making a consideration that turkey is not chicken and that real substation is coming from the red meat sector
  • All about the 5 P’s, Product, Price, Promotion, Placement and Profit – need every single element
  • Relationship, relationship, relationship – at the processor/retailer level in order to gain success

“The Why”

Why? The re-occurring question…. Well, this is my attempt at answering with what I know now..

I am invested; that is the over-riding reason why I applied to be a 2016 Nuffield Canada Scholar. It is about my family, our business, my family’s businesses, my clients businesses and our Canadian industry and all of the people linked through rural communities and the supplier community; I am invested on many fronts in supply management.

As the application deadline loomed in April 2015, so too did the impending trade talks which would potentially affect our supply managed commodities; with that in mind I applied by asking the bigger questions of ‘what if’.  Although that short term question of instability created by global trade pressure may have appeared to pass for the time being, the bigger question of how supply management continues to evolve in Canada is top of mind.  As such, I have refined my thoughts:

“Evaluating poultry markets to ensure Canada’s supply management system is efficient & innovative.”

Given the recent trade announcements and apparent stability, now is the time to ensure our systems are remaining relevant, efficient and ultimately meeting the needs of all members in the value chain from the farmer to the consumer.

As other geo political pressures mount, be it the need to feed the 9 Billion people by 2050 or the aggressive export plans for my fellow pork and beef producer to market into Asia, I think it is very relevant to ask the questions ensuring our system that is nearly 50 years old remains relevant for the next generation of farmers with ever so increasing consumer demands.

The goals over the next 18 months include extensive travel plans through Europe, Asia, Australia and North America; asking the questions about market organization, the role orderly markets and farmer/processor/consumer relationship are evolving and the affect it has back on the farm.  Through open communication, looking outside the daily lens of Canadian agriculture; my goal is to shed light on how our system can continue to meet the needs of the Canadian market.

The Nuffield program was introduced to me a few years ago by local farmers and friends; having followed the program with interest, I was amazed to see the progress individuals made in their own lives but also in their local peer group around them by giving back their gifts through speaking, coaching and encouraging leadership in Canadian agriculture.

So as I embark on this journey, I go as ‘Clair Doan – Nuffield Scholar’ I still have in my head these questions – Why apply, why now, why not wait, why would you do this?

In life there is no perfect time to do anything; however it is through the support of my wife Kathryn, my children; whom seem too young to comprehend, my employer, my family and friends; I am eternally grateful.