Pork production has for a long time taken the lead in Vietnam, but poultry seems to be on the increase. Phi Long farm is successfully growing broilers and Grimaud Freres from France founded their Asian duck GPS operations in this country. World Poultry visited both these operations.
By Ad Bal
Traditionally, Vietnam is not a leading country in poultry consumption. Although duck meat is popular, estimated total annual poultry consumption per capita accounts to only 8-10 kg, compared to 33 kg of pork. Domestic poultry production therefore is also limited. Poultry meat imports from China are said to account for 8,000 tonnes/month. As a result, there is room for domestic poultry production and some producers are responding to this growing demand.
Through the acquisition of two feed plants, animal feed manufacturer De Heus from the Netherlands stepped into the animal protein market in Vietnam in 2009. De Heus is active in various fields of nutrition including poultry. Through their knowledge of growing poultry, they play their part and support their customers in Vietnam. Such a customer is privately owned broiler producer Phi Long Farm in Dong Nai province, near Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country. Phi Long is a relatively large operation by Vietnamese standards.
The average size of a broiler farm in Vietnam is usually 5,000 birds, but the operation of Phi Long is much bigger. They have their own imported Ross 308 breeding stock which are kept on their three rearing farms. Also they have three breeder farms for 8,000 breeder birds each. Moreover Phi Long has its own hatchery for themselves and for other customers. Here they vaccinate their broiler chicks against Newcastle Disease, IB and Gumboro.
Pleasant climate Phi Long has three grower facilities with three houses for 8,000 broilers each. “We don’t have very high standards, but that is due to the situation in Vietnam”, says Phi Long. “Manual labour in this country is inexpensive, so automatically we are lacking a high degree of automation. Yet we think that on a scale of 1 to 10 our rating is about 8, which we consider fairly good.”
When entering a broiler farm of Phi Long, all visitors and vehicles must pass through a sanitation gate. Indeed that clearly shows the measures they are taking to avoid disease transmission. The houses are quite simple, with curtains and pad cooling ventilation. Control is mostly done manually. But the climate inside the house is very pleasant. Caretakers are inside all the time and adjust the settings when appropriate. The litter is dry and there is no ammonia smell. Round feeders are filled manually and both feed and ample water are available for the birds all the time. They are using standard broiler feed of De Heus.
Fresh product Once the birds have reached their slaughter weight of 2.5-2.8 kg, they are taken to the processing plant. Here the birds are slaughtered in one 12 hour shift between 5 PM and 5 AM. Capacity of the plant is about 5,000 birds on a daily basis. “We need to slaughter during the night, since we must supply fresh products to the market in the early morning”, says Long.
“Eighty percent of our output is sold through traditional fresh markets, both as whole birds, as well as in parts. The remaining 20% is vacuum packed and sold through supermarkets. Regrettably there is no clear law about HACCP certification in Vietnam, but we wish to be compliant and meet with these standards as much as possible. All in all we think that we are setting the standards for Vietnam. It will take another 10 years before Vietnam is fully independent from imports. We do our best however, to be ahead and be ready for this future.”
Grimaud GPS stock Despite the low degree of poultry consumption in Vietnam, (all species amount to 8-10 kg per capita), duck meat is very popular and this holds true all across Asia. In Vietnam alone, about 72 million ducks were slaughtered for domestic consumption in 2010. This is close to one duck per capita per year. Including spent layer carcasses (less weight) this is estimated at about 1.5 kg per capita.
For commercial and competitive reasons, duck breeding company Grimaud Freres from France, decided to establish their own grandparent stock (GPS) operations in Vietnam in 2009. And only three years later, the company seems well on track. Currently, they supply parent stock (PS) Pekin ducklings to breeder farms and hatcheries primarily in the southern part of Vietnam.
Here, ducks were traditionally kept in rice culture. For a considerable time there has been an American influence in this part of the country which has resulted in a preference for Pekin duck. In the northern part of Vietnam, the former Soviet Union had a strong influence and there’s a bigger market for Muscovy and mule duck. Due to the strong involvement of government institutes with only very limited imports of parent stock only every six to seven years, breeding is mostly done locally in northern Vietnam.
Benefits of hybrid “For this reason, we have decided to focus on the southern part of the country”, says general manager Bui Van Nhac of Grimaud in Vietnam. “Gradually producers are now moving from traditional methods to keeping ducks in closed houses. They understand that traditional systems are difficult to manage. There’s a high disease pressure and performance is not as good as from hybrid ducks. We seem to be able to convince them about the benefits of our hybrid stock.
Domestic ducks are selected just because of their size. Just the biggest ones are selected. But there’s not anybody thinking about the growing capacities of the broilers. And not to forget meat quality. Too much fat is unwanted and often this also goes along with lower fertility. Of course, a Grimaud Star duckling is much more expensive than a local breed, often twice as expensive or even more. But a local breed is growing at a much lower speed. In general it reaches its end weight of 3,5 kg at 60 days with an FCR of around 3.0. A Grimaud Star duck reaches its end weight of 3.2-3.5 kg in only 49 days with an FCR of maximum 2.5. These are amazing figures. Taken into account the higher price of the duckling and other parameters, the benefits of our commercial ducks are enormous.”
Isolated area The GPS operations of Grimaud are located in the Trang Bom District in Dong Nai province. This is an isolated area where not many other poultry are kept. Thus, the risk of contagious disease transmission is relatively low. The GPS stock are kept in traditional type closed houses, but with access to water if temperatures are raising too high. After all, ducks are still waterfowl. Currently, Grimaud keep about 6,500 GPS ducks. The staff collect eggs daily after the birds have been given access to the timber nests which are located at floor level. Male/female ratio is 1:5.
Then, the eggs are taken to the hatchery which is also based on the premises. Grimaud is using singlestage incubators of Qingdao Xingyi from China. “This company has longstanding experience in duck egg incubation in Asia. Thus, we decided to use their technology”, says Nhac. In 2011, Grimaud Vietnam produced about 60,000 PS ducklings for their customers in Vietnam. The offsex ducklings are sold to market for consumption purposes.
GPS and PS separate The company is also in the process of building another hatchery, but this will be for hatching broiler ducklings from their own PS. The purpose of this is to keep expenses of their operations at an acceptable level. This can be achieved by creating economy of scale. “However, we wish to keep GPS and PS separate”, says Nhac. “And this also applies to the hatchery. For that reason we are now building this separate hatchery for our own PS.”
Currently, Grimaud is only supplying PS in Vietnam. “However, step by step we will also move into other countries in the region, like Cambodia”, Nhac concludes. “Thus, we aim to gradually extend our presence in Asia by convincing producers about the benefits of our hybrid ducks.”