What has a retired salesman for pig-farm equipment to do with a chicken farmer?
My father, Bert Hooijer, may be retired, but make no mistake: he’s not simply sitting around waiting to die. Among other things, he is working on some projects in Romania with my mother. A business contact put him in touch with the Poultec company, a supplier of chicken houses. I can hear you thinking: what business could a pig house installer possibly have with a supplier for poultry farmers? It’s actually more than you would expect…
What opportunities does Romania offer pig farmers?
In the eighties, a war was raging in Lebanon. Romania was living through the final days of communism in 1989, and a number of Lebanese investors were shifting their businesses to this former Eastern bloc nation. Poultec followed as a poultry farm supplier. But before we make the link to pig farming, Bert Hooijer explains how he ended up in Romania:
Former sheep stables, now there’s something we can work with!
“Romania is becoming increasingly prosperous, which means that the demand for meat is increasing. Romania still imports pork. You can still find vacant old state business premises, where cows or sheep were kept in Ceausescu’s hayday. One of Poultec’s relations has, for example, a farm with nineteen empty stables each measuring eleven metres wide and seventy metres long. We immediately thought: we can work with that!” the enthusiastic pensioner tells us. “We may be retired, but why would we not advise Poultec through their pig department – “Porktec” which supplies turnkey projects for pigs and its customers on how to convert those spaces into pig houses? They used our advice to design the layout of the stables, in accordance with European standards. Bert helped in applying projects that can serve the needs of each customer.
In the meantime, the Lebanese immigrants are running large pig farms alongside their poultry farms. “Everything is set up according to EU rules. The pigs are kept in stables that sometimes look old on the outside, but on the inside, they are ultra-modern spaces,” says Hooijer. “And Poultec is in the process of expanding with ‘Porktec’, so that they can also set up pig farms and train employees hired specifically for this purpose.” The first three companies in Romania have already been set up via ‘Porktec’. As it happens, you can also find Dutch pig farms in Romania.
With the experience of Bert, Porktec did not only act as an equipment supplier but follows a vision to help the customers in successful and practical farming.
Redesigning is specialist work
Hooijer advises on how many sows and piglets can be kept and how existing stables can be set up. This redesigning is specialist work. “If the pig farmers start working with a certain weekly cycle, you can calculate how much space is needed for pregnant sow crates, farrowing crates, insemination areas and piglet houses.”
Porktec is using the experience of Bert because he is not only an equipment supplier but also an ex-farmer. The combination allows Porktec to offer reliable and practical solutions.
Elbow room for pig farmers
Hooijer also has to consider the existing culture of pig farming, however. ‘Backyard farming’ is still prevalent in Romania, which means diseases are easily transmitted. Consequently, entire areas are sometimes shut off. “As a pig farmer you should have room to manoeuvre, because in those cases you are not allowed to transport your animals. And your staff shouldn’t be keeping two pigs of their own, that are still fed with potato peels.”
To apply a successful vision, Bert and his wife Gesiena are supporting the sales, but they are also available to train farmers on using the equipment by sharing their experiences as previous farmers.
PS: If you are curious about Bert Hooijer’s project in Romania, click here to find out more.