Thoughts from EuroTier

Last week I attended EuroTier in Hannover, Germany. This multi-species trade show hosts almost 160,000 visitors on alternate years. There were 2 exhibit halls dedicated to swine, with additional halls hosting feed ingredients, etc. plus a large number of exhibit halls for dairy, poultry and aquaculture.

The show is truly international in audience. Chinese manufactures had booths selling every type of hog equipment they could copy, from crates and feeders to fans to probiotics to you name it. In addition, there were many Chinese in attendance walking the aisles.

One clear target market for many vendors was the Russians. Many booths had literature available in Russian and I spoke with the person in charge of sales in Russia from several US companies. While Russia struggles with African Swine Fever it remains on a path of growth.

It seemed like every equipment booth had a display of gestation crates. While the EU ban on housing pregnant females in stalls after day 35 of pregnancy goes into effect on January 1, 2013, you wouldn’t know it from the displays. Unlike most of our gestation stall designs, the majority of the crates on display had some type of locking mechanism. In most cases these were controlled by levers, chains, ropes or other mechanism from the head gate (aisle). There was some discussion of the Netherlands having discussions of moving to a total ban of gestation stalls. Apparently producers are keeping females locked in stalls for the entire gestation period, unless they get notified of an inspection, in which case the stalls are unlocked.

I stopped at a lot of ventilation equipment booths. They appear to me to have made ventilation way too complicated. I did look at several displays with fans with DC motors. I think this technology will increase in the US as operating costs on these motors, especially when used as variable speed, can be significantly reduced.

The most notable item from my trip wasn’t even at the trade show. On Monday I was a speaker at a pre-conference for feed industry representatives from across Europe. Many of them were talking about their soybean meal concerns. However, there concerns aren’t related to this year’s short US crop. Rather, they are related to consumers who are now asking that pigs be fed only soybean meal that is sustainable. In their mind, this means no meal from the US because of our use of GMO traits and no meal from South America because of the destruction of the rain forests. This means European producers are being pressured to grow their own sources of protein, generally something like peas or lintels. While these are excellent feed ingredients, for most European farmers the loss in income per hectare for these crops versus their more traditional crops such as wheat can be substantial. Something like this further limits the competitive abilities of our European counterparts.

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