Last June, Dutch animal feed company De Heus started the construction of a demonstration farm for 400 sows and 800 fattening pigs in Vietnam. The aim is to have this farm populated with animals by the end of the year. All About Feed talked to the new farm manager.
The farm works with pigs bred by themselves, from the core breeding farm to the F1 sows. The demonstration farm enables De Heus to give pig farmers, local consultants of the animal feed company, governments and chain partners the experience of how a modern farm is organised. Farmer’s son Rick van der Linden from the Netherlands will manage the farm and lead and develop the operation for the next 2 years. Van der Linden’s father owns sows in the Netherlands and in Germany.
Rick van der Linden from the Netherlands will be manager of the new demonstration farm in Vietnam. Photo: Tamara Reijers
Quite an adventure. What is it that attracts you?
“For me, this is a unique opportunity to learn a lot in 2 years and to make a contribution to the development of Vietnamese pig farming. Last year I finished my strategic management course at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands. I know the country, I went backpacking there. Plus, I have experience with pigs and I am trained to give direction to companies. That is why De Heus gave me this opportunity. I think I will find my footing there. On working days I will be with other people at the company in the Vung Tau region. In the weekends I will go to Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh. Our head office is located there and many colleagues work there.”
What is your task at the company?
“My task is twofold. I am responsible for the technical management of the company. We want to farrow 28 piglets per sow in the second year. Our biggest challenge in keeping pigs is the tropical climate. In addition, I will develop and provide training for our target group. Our aim is for the example company to perform well after 2 years and a Vietnamese will be able to continue my work.”
Dutch feed company De Heus is very active in Vietnam and has several feed mills in the country. Photo: Jan Zandee.
Are people susceptible to your message?
“Yes, I do expect them to be. I have been in Vietnam twice. People are open to messages from westerners. They don’t look back at what happened in the past but want to move forward. There is an enormous group of young ambitious people in Vietnam. I think 5 years from now the setup and the practices of the demonstration farm will make their way into private companies in Vietnam. The strength of the demonstration company is that we show that what De Heus stands for is really viable. An example is the 3 weeks system. Pig farmers over there are not familiar with it.”
What knowledge is particularly necessary?
“For pig farmers over there it is important that they learn how to work in a structured and systematically way. Also thinking ahead is important, for instance in the construction of a new pigsty. Working according to a week-system (like they do in Europe) is unknown in Vietnam. Working with this system means that the main activities like farrowing, insemination and weaning are not happening in the same week, but clustered. In Vietnam, a sow on heat simply goes to the boar. Structuring management will vastly improve the results.”
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