This year Lohmann Tierzucht celebrates its 50 year jubilee. The layer breeding as well as the veterinary divisions of the company have reached a milestone. “We have achieved high standards, and we are ready for the next step to further improve our wide range of products for the world market,” says company MD Dr Hans-Friedrich Finck.
By Ad Bal
Those who dive into the history of Lohmann will find out that the company was officially founded by Heinz Lohmann in 1932, as a supplier of fishmeal to the feed industry. That lasted until 1957 when the company received the license for broiler breeding from a US-based company. In 1959, however, Lohmann stepped into the layer breeding business and also founded the veterinary laboratory. This was the launch of the company as we know it today.
Layer breeding was based on a license agreement with Heisdorf & Nelson (H&N) from the US. This became the basis for the success and current global activities of Lohmann. In 1987, both Lohmann and H&N were acquired by Paul Wesjohann & Co. from Germany, after which the group was reorganised in 1998. From that moment, both the layer breeding division Lohmann Tierzucht as well as the veterinary laboratory belonged to the Erich Wesjohann Group.
Progress in performance
“Over the past 50 years, we have achieved tremendous progress in layer performance,” says Lohmann managing director Hans-Friedrich Finck. “The average number of eggs produced per hen increased by no less than 45%, and that is simply based on the progress in breeding. Moreover, we have improved feed conversion considerably. All this is thanks to our comprehensive breeding approach. We currently have a market share of about 27% around the globe. That is without our sister brand H&N, which has another 6% market share.
Genetically, Lohmann layers and H&N layers are different strains. This enables us to offer various products for various markets around the world, ranging from cold to tropical conditions, and for a wide range of cultures. Some markets demand small eggs, like India, whereas others prefer big eggs, such as Russia. And of course everywhere there’s a different demand for brown and white eggs. We must be able to respond to all those demands, and with both Lohmann Tierzucht and H&N we manage that. Quite a challenge. Apart from Lohmann Tierzucht and H&N, Wesjohann also owns US-based Hy-Line, which operates completely independently from us. In fact, they are a competitive brand.”
It is quite clear that Lohmann has a strong market position around the globe and Hans-Friedrich Finck believes that this is the reason that the company needs to be very proactive and secure its position. “Our research is very much focused on future trends. Think about the ban on cages in the EU in 2012, and apparently in the state of California in the US in 2015. Our research therefore must focus on free-range behaviour. We need to supply layers with good production parameters, but also with good nesting behaviour. After all, no one wants floor eggs. Also, we select birds that express the lowest possible pecking behaviour,” says Finck, who continues in saying that egg quality is of great importance.
The global demand for industrial use of eggs is on the increase, he says, so both internal quality as well as shell quality need to meet certain standards. Feed conversion rate (FCR) was, is, and will remain important under all possible circumstances. “There is a continuous search for finding the right balance between all these traits in our breeding programme,” says Finck.
Another matter of great importance is securing supply under all conditions. “This is driven by the risk of an outbreak of a contagious disease, such as avian influenza. It is for this reason, says Finck, that the company’s pure lines are kept in five different locations around the globe. “Moreover, we will expand our network, like with a PS hatchery in Russia, which will enable us to be closer to very important growing markets,” he adds.
Apart from the breeding division, Lohmann’s veterinary lab enables very close support for its customers with specific vaccines for certain flock treatments. This has proven to be beneficial in the past 50 years.
“We are convinced that we are on the right track. We believe that our experience and achievements in the past 50 years will be the basis for a successful future. We are ready for the challenges ahead,” Finck concludes.