JJulium DeTrose is the son of a farmer. Follow the classic and perhaps very obvious path of agricultural school. However, he soon felt the need to open up to other topics: “I started my high school education at Ciney and finished at Athe, which allowed me to meet people from different backgrounds. I needed this to discover new horizons, get off the farm and talk about other things I think That it is important to be open minded and not be limited by what you know At the end of my studies I spent two years abroad in mechanics. It pleased me, because without this experience I think I would have had enough of traditional farming. However, I gladly returned. At the age of twenty, I acquired a part From my parents’ farm, I worked with my parents.”
Guillaume initially devoted himself entirely to the farm, with a dairy herd, beef, poultry, and arable crops, and also looked after sales on the farm.
From a livestock breeder to a livestock dealer
One day, through his cousin, who was building a barn for veal manure, he contacted the company Vanlommel, specializing in the production of veal. “It is a reputable company in this field. It manages the production of feed and animal fattening, as well as the cutting and distribution of meat or by-products of this production. This company works together with a large number of Flemish livestock breeders and some Walloon farmers. However, the formulations are still Expensive, because the calves must be fattened with stainless steel and wood buildings to maintain the whiteness of the meat. This requires a significant investment, but is still a diversification solution young people can consider. Vanlommel is still looking for interested cattle farmers in Wallonia.”
To fill the calf fattening houses, the consolidator logically needs young calves, and this is where Guillaume comes in: “The company gave me the opportunity to buy calves for them. It is an activity that has attracted me because I have always loved being on the road and because I love meeting people and doing business. When I was a teenager, I participated in Selling animals on the farm from an early age and I was always looking for a good business plan.”
The original idea was for Guillaume to also sell milk powder on the farm where the calves are bought. “If the purchased calves are already used in milk powder from the integration company, it is easier to include them in their chain. But in practice, things went differently. They became different activities. I sell powdered milk, but not necessarily on the farms where I buy calves. Enjoy Farmers are completely free to make the choices that best suit them.”
For 4 years, Guillaume has been delivering a batch of calves every week to Vanlommel which he bought from his clients: “This collaboration has really helped me start this profession. It has given me a certain protection, with a steady market. Although I haven’t had the same experience as the partners Others, they gave me a chance.”
Calves are red, black or mixed. They range in age from 15 days to a month, so they can be included in similar age groups: “This is important for logistics. The calves are slaughtered when they are 8 months old and leave the broiler shed together. We cannot afford to delay loading some calves because they are not big enough.”
The meat of the veal of dairy cows produced by Vanlommel is sold in Belgium and abroad. This is in contrast to double-muscled veal, the demand for which is concentrated exclusively in Belgium. White and blue Belgian calves are only fattened in small groups, as their often diverse origin makes them less easy to transport. Sometimes they come from dairy farms. This requires more work. Nukas (fasting calves) from dairy cows are much easier, they drink well naturally. ”
More trust through more customers
By prospecting for calves, Guillaume gained more clients and received different offers: “One thing led to another, people also offered me cows or bulls, and today I do both. I mainly work with dairy cows and Belgian white and blue cattle, but that’s because The existence of arable agriculture more than livestock in my area.In my area, many successful livestock farms have since closed because they have no successors.The remaining companies are more specialized companies with a guaranteed future.This is different from the south.Cattle farms are approaching each other, so that merchants move more easily from farm to farm. This is territorial.”
Trust has also grown over time: “I have friends who become clients and clients who become friends. Some of them work with multiple buyers. I go there 1 week out of 2 or only for specific categories of animals, everything is done with confidence. This is how we work as service providers Agricultural.For the veterinarian, the feed seller, the trader…there is no contract.We work with the people we deal with whom we trust.In addition, for certain categories of animals we work more on commission.The client asks me to sell his animals, I will do my best and take the amount owed to me for this transaction. We are agreeing to a certain amount for the white-blue Belgian bulls and the more extensive sales. In these cases, this is normal in the sector.”
Meanwhile, Guillaume expanded his network: “It is not a large network, because many traders have been active in this field for years. Often this profession passes from father to son. This is not the case with me. So it took me a while to find destinations The right connection.I met wholesalers and sellers working in export.Another plus point is that I can count on the support of some livestock traders who were at the end of their careers.They taught me what I needed to know.This was a unique opportunity in this somewhat protective and individualistic world.And with That is, the cattle merchants of our area treat each other with respect, even if they do not always agree on everything. ”
Selling from a separate stable
He usually collects the animals that Guillaume buys in a separate stable. “A lot of batches of calves or cows leave this barn every week, I outsource the transportation. Some animals are also bought on site. I can go to the market in Ciney, which is an authority on that, but I’m less attached to it. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t used to on that from a young age, especially because it also doesn’t suit me with my other job as a cattle rancher.However, it’s still an important place and I make many calls there every Friday to find directions and know how to act.I find it more efficient for me to sell from my own stables I inform you that there are animals for sale and the buyer will come if he is interested. If this does not suit him, so be it. As a result, I have no transportation or other costs associated with the market. I know the buyers, how they work, and their payment terms…”
The type of purchase and sale also determines the price, guarantees and rules to be observed. “The pet trade is reasonably regulated and all animals come with identification. We must also keep a record of the dates, times and places of loading, but the guarantees offered vary depending on the destination of the animal. Animals intended for feedlots, collection centers or slaughterhouses – unlike livestock – do not require any guarantees. Approx. More precautions must be taken in livestock: trucks and carts must be disinfected before loading and this must be proven; quarantine must be observed; blood samples must be taken at the time of purchase and at the end of the quarantine period … There is not much left to chance.”
A combination of 2 professions
Guillaume also had to learn to match his trade as a cattle trader with his cattle ranch and vice versa.
“Initially I was on the road a lot to visit my customers and this caused problems on the farm. I had to find the balance. Thanks to my separate sales stable I can organize myself better, because I can load the animals whenever I want, collect them in my stable, and the carrier makes sure that It arrives at its destination on time.It also gives me flexibility during the growing season.I also rarely visit the farms.I call to see what is available.This saves me time and the farmer also loves my style.
At our company, we’ve also changed the way we work. I delegated some things that I wasn’t aware of. I also wanted to try the good ideas from my company visits here, but I realized that sometimes this is counterproductive. I wanted to try many things at once and it wasn’t profitable.”
The farmer determines the sale himself
Today’s clouds think he struck a certain balance: “It wasn’t easy. Livestock trading is something to look at in the long run, where supply and demand are affected quickly and because prices for certain categories fluctuate widely. Loyalty of customers and buyers is also important.”
I am completely satisfied with my trade. I can really develop in this profession, that’s all I need. I think one will always need cattle dealers. If you do well and properly, there is room for everyone. Finally, I think this is still a farmer-controlled area. He can decide when to sell and to whom. Such a thing has become a rarity, because often you are bound by one partner. ”