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Gallagher WEID equipment used in expanding the Vietnamese Cattle Industry

For businesses in the live cattle trade, data is essential. Not only do they need to be able to capture and use data such as tag numbers and weight gains effectively for their own records, they also need to be able to trace every animal throughout the supply chain — from farm gate to slaughter floor.

It's a challenge that Vietnam-based Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group (HAGL) is meeting with great success.

HAGL began in 1990 as a small furniture producer in Vietnam. Over the years, the company has diversified into a wide range of industries, including rubber, granite processing, sugar, property development and football, spreading into Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand.

Earlier this year, it expanded into cattle, seeing an opportunity to supply the region's ever-increasing demand for protein. The Saigon Times' newspaper report of HAGL's annual general meeting said the company's total beef and dairy herd is expected to rise to 100,000 cows at the end of this year, and 300,000 in 2016.

HAGL general director Vo Truong Son said the company predicted net revenue in 2015 would grow 75% year-on-year to over VND 5.34 trillion, with cattle farming contributing 46% of that.

As part of setting up its feedlots and farms, HAGL imported cattle, including from Australia via livestock export trade pioneer AUSTREX; cattle crushes from Warwick Cattle Crush Company from Forest Hill in Queensland; and electric fencing, weighing and electronic identification equipment (WEID) from Gallagher.

Darren O'Reilly, former Gallagher Territory Manager for South Coast Queensland, North NSW Coast and the Northern Territory, says, "Our equipment is being used not only measuring performance in the feedlot, but actually tracing the animals every step of the way."

"I've been involved with AUSTREX for a while. They work really hard to comply with ESCAS, the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, which is all about making sure exported Australian livestock are handled according to international welfare standards. Part of that is being able to trace the animal from farm gate here in Australia, to the slaughter floor, wherever that might be around the world. So they use our equipment to track animals on their export journey. AUSTREX reports directly to the Department of Ag for ESCAS and are audited randomly to check animal traceability through the supply chain. Meat and Livestock Australia also have people on the ground checking facilities."

"Then HAGL began using Gallagher Weighing and EID equipment in conjunction with Warwick's cattle crushes. These Warwick crushes are renowned for being the best in the business, and Gallagher's equipment is often tagged onto them because it's also rugged and reliable."

"What HAGL are aiming to do over the next five years is just phenomenal, and to do that, they need to know how to get the best from their WEID equipment. Because he's worked on the ground in Vietnam with HAGL, Tim Sweet from AUSTREX suggested we go and do some training with them. It was a big step for us to send someone over to Vietnam to do that for 10 days, but we believe in what they're doing and have a lot of confidence in how AUSTREX operates. AUSTREX has put some people on the ground over there full-time; they've made a big commitment to HAGL as well to help them establish this business."

In Vietnam, Darren and Tim worked with local AUSTREX employee Steve as the interpreter.

"We had quite a few challenges. The cattle industry is all so new to HAGL's workers, so they had no experience with any WEID equipment either, also the Vietnamese language is apparently the most difficult to learn because the same word can mean five different things, depending on the tone and pitch in your voice. I'd probably have to say the obstacles in language and interpretation in the training was character building! But also very rewarding."

But Darren says while it's unskilled labour, the workers' willingness to learn and calmness handling stock were commendable.

"When we left, the feedlot and office workers were all trained on the equipment. I've had some emails since and helped them out with a couple of questions.

"Gallagher WEID gear is rugged, but it's brilliant simplicity makes it very user friendly."

"A stand out is APS — our Animal Performance Software. We're the only company that has animal management software available with our gear. HAGL are very protective of what they're doing; with APS, the data doesn't have to go through a third party and then come back to them, it's all in-house and they really like that."

"They have a traceability department headed by Mr Ting, which takes up a whole floor in their office, that handles data from their feedlots and dairy, and they were rapt because APS was doing everything they wanted to do as far as tracing animals and recording data."

Darren says he saw Weighing and EID equipment from other suppliers, unused on the office floor.

"Gear would be sent there, but with no training or support. As I said before, it is a big commitment to go over there, but it makes sense for the customer, and we were the first company to actually go over there and do it."

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity to go, and deliver our brand and it's 'three c's': consistency, continuity and contribution. It was a very worthwhile trip on so many fronts."

"Gallagher WEID gear is rugged, but it's brilliant simplicity makes it very user friendly."