The poultry market is changing rapidly and requires the maximum knowledge about production technology, efficiency and changes in market demands. By launching a new Production Management School for EMEA countries Aviagen expects to support its clients in being better prepared for the changes, says Nick Spenceley the school’s course director.
By Wiebe van der Sluis
Poultry breeding company Aviagen has been running successful Production Management schools in the United States, China and Brazil for a number of years and 2012 saw the launch of the first school specifically for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. We recently caught up with Nick Spenceley, course director, Aviagen EMEA School, who developed the modules, which commenced with the Breeder Module at the end of August in Edinburgh, Scotland. He told that in 2013 they will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school started by Arbor Acres and continued by Aviagen. “Such is the demand for places here from our customers worldwide that it made sense to develop a school that would be more accessible to the EMEA regions”, Nick Spenceley said. “The result is our Production Management School, the first of its kind in our region.”
Different school model
Apart from the location, the EMEA School differs from the existing ones. The existing US EMEA School runs as one four week module covering all aspects of broiler and breeder production. Nick Spenceley: “We modified this to enable delegates to attend without taking four weeks off from day-to-day jobs and families. The week long modules give people the option to select one or more modules which are most relevant to them. We want the school to run parallel with the others so the global Aviagen messages remain the same. It is fair to say that although the new school is modelled on the US one it is not a straight copy. Throughout its development we had close contact with the US while firmly focusing on EMEA and its needs.
The first modules will be hosted in different locations across the region. We held the first event in Edinburgh at the end of August, with the broiler module in Turkey Autumn 2012 and the hatchery and incubation module planned for the Netherlands early 2013. We hope the spread of locations makes it easier for potential students to enrol for the course but this concept will be subject to review as we get feedback from the delegates.”
What were the aims?
Being the developer of the School and its programme Nick Spenceley felt that it was important that it fit in as part of Aviagen’s overall global technical transfer strategy. He stated that the long standing success of the other schools was a great model. “Specifically, we wanted to look at ‘why’ certain procedures are important as well as the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘when’. We wanted to match the success of these schools in technical learning and making friendly contacts across the industry by providing a good platform for networking and exchanging knowledge. Building brand, customer and people loyalty is important and we can do this by providing practical, relevant knowledge with economically sound advice in support of our customers’ bottom line performance.”
Understanding the needs
When asked to explain a little more about the structure of the school, for example why particular topics were chosen, and whether there are recognised gaps in skills or a result of customer demand, Nick Spenceley responded by saying: “It was vital that we focused on what livestock managers really need to know as they progress in their careers. The curriculum was developed in consultation with the Regional Technical Managers based on their experiences within the region. The key was making it relevant to improving performance through a better understanding of the industry business drivers and their own company key economic indicators. Improving output and reducing costs is fundamental to developing management strategies.
It was important to look at the role the production manager has within his company in liaising with his other technical specialist colleagues such as their nutritionist, incubationist and veterinarian. Each has an important team role to play and each relies on the other for support, information and advice. The Breeder Module, for example, was about maximum chick numbers at the lowest cost. The Broiler Module in Turkey focused on broiler management to reduce the cost per kilogramme of broiler meat while maximising quality.
The modules must be both technical and commercially relevant. Production managers work to maximise biological performance within the economic constraints of the industry. We have to be able to remain competitive within a global market. To start the week David Gibson, Production Director at Moy Park, provided an overview of the global, retail and economic challenges facing his company. He outlined the industry business drivers and the specific production and economic indicators he uses to remain competitive and the supplier of choice to many leading European retailers. As a long term partner of Aviagen, a PS distributor and broiler grower his company is uniquely placed to understand the complete value chain from primary breeder through to the consumer.”
Getting the most out of it
Now that the first module has ended, Nick Spenceley felt it went extremely well. “We had a great group of delegates from 17 different countries. English was the language we were presenting in and as a rule everybody understood the key take home messages. There was plenty of feedback and questions after the different papers. As the days went by, our students really gelled as a group, happy to talk and split up from their geographical groups and mingle with other students. We have received a lot of complimentary messages from our customers and their attendee’s, all stating what they have learnt will be applied in their businesses and daily work. So, whilst it worked really well and I am very pleased with the outcomes, we have learnt a lot during the first module. We will now build the suggested feedback into subsequent modules so we continually improve the quality of the schools to enable our customers to get the most out the week.”
The main highlights
“In terms of the highlights from the perspective of the delegates, the bits they enjoyed the most were the practical sessions”, Nick Spenceley continued. “We visited our laboratory and had practical sessions there; we did some egg selection work as well as a organised a workshop on building design which later incorporated a ventilation exercise. These were the sessions where we got a lot of interaction and discussion going. For the next modules we will be incorporating a lot more of these practical sessions in the afternoons. We will make the next modules a little less intensive and aim to cover fewer topics more effectively. In this way, we are making use of the positive feedback delegates gave us after the breeder module.
“What the students will take away from the first module and what they will do now in their day-to-day jobs with the knowledge they have gathered is up to the individual participant. The objective in pulling the curriculum together was to take experienced breeder managers, put them into the context of understanding why we do things, the environment in which we do them and to understand the business drivers. Not just the biological business drivers but the economic ones as well. To understand that we are in this business to make a profit and so they need to look at the whole dynamics of the business and the fact that they are one person in a team of people with the same objectives veterinarians and understanding each other’s roles to gain the maximum synergy. I hope,” as Nick Spenceley concluded, “they will go back with an understanding and focus on the key drivers in their business and actually work together as a more effective team.