This month marks the 25th anniversary of Herbert Bouwers being tasked to go out and investigate whether dairy farmers might be a potential market for Alpuro calf milk. Until then, Alpuro had only been active in calves, but it was looking for new markets.
Under the name Alpuro Breeding, Herbert visited dairy farms to offer and sell its then product range. Herbert looks back: “Those early days were wonderful. True pioneering in a large, yet unexplored market. You had to rely on yourself, but also enjoyed a lot of freedom. Figuring out for yourself how to convince a client to work with you. If you succeeded, you'd feel like a king.”
Hitting the Mark
The concept of Alpuro Breeding hit the mark. The start of a great adventure in 1995 was also the start of a mission. Sales to dairy farmers caught on, and Herbert developed a total concept over time where the farmer could count on knowledge and guidance with a range of breeding milk powders, supplemented with calf feed, support products and later also animal housing.
Herbert's bus soon became too small and from 1997 onward, a team of calf specialists was formed. The service remains unchanged to this day and consists of a thorough analysis of calf rearing, where the growth and health of the calves are the main focus.
Independence through crisis
In 2001, there was a sudden outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that affects, among others, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and deer. It proved to be a crisis of unprecedented scale with major financial consequences for the Dutch livestock sector. Alpuro was badly hit because both the slaughterhouse and the compound feed company were located in the so-called FMD triangle - the severely affected area between Apeldoorn, Zwolle and Deventer. This was the reason to turn calf rearing into an independent business unit, Alpuro Breeding BV.
In recent years, Breeding has taken further flight. Herbert: "Alpuro Breeding was acquired by the VanDrie Group in 2011. We were offered plenty of room for further development.'' Alpuro Breeding's calf specialists have at their disposal a complete package of different "tools" to provide dairy farmers with optimum support. This includes, for instance, a measurement program to determine the growth curve of calves or conducting manure tests. Correct adjustment of the automated drinking machines is also part of the service.
The housing is also considered and the ventilation can be visualised with smoke patterns, for example, or even climate sensors. Finally, this is summarised in a general management advice for the dairy farmer. Alpuro Breeding is always looking at possibilities for further development. Herbert indicates: "We found that we could expand our concept into another sector as well. We are now also active in the rearing of lambs. Three lamb specialists are now working to help sheep and goat farmers in rearing their lambs". The total field staff today counts about 35 specialists, with an office staff of 10 FTEs. The most important sales markets are the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark.
Alpuro Breeding was acquired by the VanDrie Group in 2011. We were offered plenty of room for further development. – Herbert Bouwers
Herbert explains with enthusiasm: “It is great to see that most of the "young dogs of the early hour" are still here. In addition to serving their client base, their experience also plays a role in coaching new young talents. We all wish each other the very best and that is a typical sign of the good atmosphere we have within our company”.
Herbert had envisioned a different 25th anniversary of Alpuro Breeding. The planned festivities for the staff, the customers and all other partners of Alpuro Breeding cannot take place as planned, unfortunately, under the current circumstances. But postponing does not mean cancelling - many new plans and ideas are already underway. We hope to tell you more about this soon!