Feedlot Health Management Services Ltd., a beef industry consulting practice in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada, and Supreme Livestock Services of Jordaanpark, Heidelberg, South Africa, have merged to operate together in South Africa as Feedlot Health Management Services-SA. The managing director for FHMS-SA is Dr. Andy Hentzen.
Bovine Veterinarian asked FHMS’ Calvin Booker, DVM, and FHMS-SA's Andy Hentzen, DVM, BSc, three questions about merging a beef veterinary consulting business across continents.
Bovine Veterinarian: What was the impetus behind joining forces for this business venture?
Calvin Booker/Andy Hentzen: Both SLS and FHMS are always on the lookout for diversification and growth opportunities that will enhance shareholder returns and bring enhanced value to their customers. From the SLS perspective, the merger represents an opportunity to use the FHMS individual animal data collection and management systems (and access the data-based knowledge that goes with it) in South Africa feedlots, which will bring tremendous value to SLS customers and diversifies the SLS service offering. FHMS has been developing its systems for over 25 years and it will be more efficient to build from this experience and adapt it to the South African system than to start from scratch. From the FHMS perspective, the merger represents an opportunity to grow its business, diversify its client base, and learn more about feedlot production in non-North American scenarios, which will ultimately translate into knowledge and value for its existing client base.
BV: What differences or similarities between Canadian/U.S. feedlots and South African feedlots do each of you think you can capitalize on to serve clients?
Booker/Hentzen: In general, feedlot production systems in South Africa and Canada/U.S. share more similarities than they do differences. Examples include feeder cattle procurement strategies, prevention and control of common feedlot diseases, management of groups with diverse phenotypic characteristics to optimize production, and cost-effective nutritional programs. There are some obvious differences between the existing production systems, including the occurrence of diseases and production challenges that don't commonly occur in Canada/U.S. feedlots, a production/marketing system that does not currently recognize or reward marbling and severely discounts over-fat carcasses, and a more integrated feedlot-packing plant interface where most medium to large feedlots own a packing plant.
However, FHMS-SA looks at these differences as opportunities to bring new value to clients. Rather than trying to over-extrapolate what is most cost-effective for Canada/U.S. feedlot production and trying to force them into areas of South Africa feedlot production where the external validity of doing so may be limited, FHMS-SA will use the same science-based, commercial field trial validated approach to identifying and implementing the most cost-effective production strategies for South African feedlots as FHMS and FHMS-USA do in Canada and the U.S.
BV: Do you think we'll see more U.S. food animal veterinary businesses (beef or dairy) collaborating with other practices in other countries in the future?
Booker/Hentzen: There are already several U.S. food animal veterinary businesses that do provide consulting services in other countries and it is likely that this is a trend that will continue in the future. However, in order to have sustainable collaborations or partnerships between Canada/U.S. veterinary businesses and businesses based in other countries, there needs to be good alignment between the parties involved so that it creates a "win-win-win" scenario for everyone, including clients. This is a huge challenge, but with the right mix of business philosophies, people involved, and opportunities that arise, there will likely be more of these types of collaborations in the future.