Jost de Graaff - Broiler product manager
Jost de Graaff is broiler product manager for the Dutch and Belgian markets. This means that, together with his colleague Steven Borgijink, he manages the feed assortment for the various types of broilers. As part of his animal sciences studies, he chose animal feed for his master's degree. After graduating, Jost joined the trainee programme at De Heus. Following a period as researcher, he became product manager in the broiler sector.
What exactly does a product manager do?
The product manager ensures that broiler feeds contribute to the customer's technical and financial goals. Our last Sector Head once described our task as: ‘just making good feed every day’. And maybe it's no more complicated than that. The fact that we work so hard every day to make good feed is mainly because of the dynamic nature of the broiler market. Changing genetics, climate and animal health, new rules: these are all factors currently confronting us. These factors create a framework providing the characteristics that our feed needs to have. The formulation department then ensures that the feed meets the requirements of this framework, but obviously for a good price. In doing so, they consider the nutritional value of the raw materials which are currently available in the plant, because even that can vary.
Customers sometimes ask us why the raw material composition of feed is not always constant. It could be, but that wouldn't give the optimal technical result. Because the composition of raw materials changes over time, incoming batches are continuously analysed in our own lab. If the protein level of the incoming soya is lower, for example, we need to correct the feed composition. These corrections are minor but essential. Otherwise the feed would suddenly contain less protein and that would impact on the performance of the animals. Our challenge is to keep that performance constant, or rather steadily improve it!
All links identified
The broiler product managers also deliver the feed for the broiler breeders and grandparents. This has a lot of advantages. Since the arrival of the various supermarket and other concepts, there are many more genetic lines in the market. We can't influence changes in genetics, but by managing the feed for these links, changes can be identified more quickly. For example, we can plan early trials to test the needs of the new lines of broilers. We can thus acquire experience with the new genetics before the broilers arrive on the poultry farms.
Working for De Heus
As product manager, Jost loves working at De Heus. Particularly because it enables him to contribute to the customer's technical results. He therefore regularly travels to view the situation on the farms. But he also has contact with many different parties, both external and internal. With R&D, for example. Usually we discuss results of trials or possibilities to answer new questions from the field.