Speaking Russian helps pig breeder

As Russia is the place to be for the next decade or two in pig production, many companies try to gain access to the Russian market. Dutch pig breeding company Topigs is one of them.

By Philippe Caldier and Vincent ter Beek
The breeding and AI company, in existence since 1999, and originating from a Dutch cooperative, is active worldwide for pig breeding. Having gained entrance to over 40 countries worldwide, and being market leader in e.g. the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal and Italy, the Russian market is a relatively new member of the family.
“We started to move to Russia about two years ago,” recalls Arno van de Laar, the company's Central and Eastern Europe manager. “Our target is to produce in those places where the market is,” adds Sjoerd van de Linde, area manager, responsible for Russia. “When we started off, we wanted to create a structure with an own animal production in Russia. The necessity for that is obvious. For example, if a company places an order of 5,000 GP sows, we don't have them in stock in a warehouse. In addition, importing animals means that we have to go through a long quarantine process. By growing them in Russia, this step has been taken. That is why we are gradually building up our network over there.”
The main male breed Topigs is working with in Russia are Tempo boars, a high vitality boar that is used for pig production in the Netherlands in almost 50% of the farms. According to Van der Linde, promoting the boar at VIV Russia, pig farmers “will get lower feed conversion, less mortality after weaning and more growth, with a final result of more earnings per fattened pig.” In addition, the company's sows are having quite a success. “The Russians appreciate the robustness of these sows which have a strong appetite,” says Van der Linde.
For the moment, two dealers have been contracted for the Dutch breeding company (see map), in two regions of the Russian Federation where there is a lot of pig production:
SBltIn the Ural Republic of Tatarstan , Kamski Bakon has been Topigs dealer as of 2005. Topigs got in touch with Kamski Bakon by selling Tempo boars – a well-known breed in Holland – to this Russian firm. The results of Kamski Bakon, a pig unit of 5,500 sows, were very encouraging, with an improvement in carcass quality. A new multiplication unit of 5,000 sows, imported from Hungary and France, was also started. It had good first results: 90% farrowing rate, 12.5 live born piglets, 11.5 weaned piglets per sow.SBltFor the Kursk Oblast (near the border with Ukraine), the company Agrifirm Lyubimoskaya joined in recently. The company sells Dutch genetic material in the wide area. In addition, also in Kursk Oblast, a breeding unit exploited by Topigs for PS sows, GPS sows and boars was constructed last year. In October 2006, the Dutch company imported from Canada a nucleus herd of 1,450 SPF animals to start this breeding nucleus.
Know the market
“A foreign company can think that it will go and conquer most of Russia, but we feel that as a foreign company we just don't have sufficient information to know the local market,” says Van de Linde.
“To know the market, one has to cooperate with local veterinarians and distributors. They know exactly where the producers are in the area. In addition, most Russian pig producers don't speak any English at all.”
For the time being, the growth does not seem to end. More production sites and contacts are likely to follow those that are already existing. For the future, the company also plans to start artificial insemination activities in Russia soon.
Source: Pig Progress 23.5

Pig Progress, volume 25, no.9 2009

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