Argentine Farm Entrepreneur: They have built an empire that employs more than 1,300 employees

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With a focus on the diversification strategy of activities in Entre Ríos province, the Eggs family is involved in poultry, agriculture, meat, and dairy farming and ventured into hospitality.

“I am part of the second generation of a family business founded 50 years ago,” introduces Hernán Eggs, 49 years old, with three children, and owner of the company Noelma. This leading Entre Ríos poultry business began in 1974 but later diversified into agriculture, beef and dairy farming, and the provision of hotel services.

“My father bought the brand and moved it to Villa Elisa, east of Entre Ríos, where he initially operated with live chickens. As time went by, integration was sought with the entire chain to manufacture balanced feed, have hens laying fertile eggs and set up its own slaughter and distribution plant that reaches the entire country, from Salta to Tierra del Fuego, to achieve maximum efficiency, ensure product quality and provide differential service to customers,” he highlights.

Eggs say that “the biggest challenge in poultry farming today is placing the different components of the chicken in different destinations instead of selling the whole chicken.” In this way, it seeks to locate low-value parts—giblets, carcasses, wings—to specific buyers to obtain maximum profitability from each slaughtered animal.

Noelma is authorized to export to 25 countries. Avian influenza in the country in 2023 initially imposed a solid barrier to shipments, but the problem is gradually being solved.

“Talks are advanced with importers from China, the main destination for Argentine poultry meat in volume, to resume operations,” warns Eggs. Simultaneously, strategies are being developed to coexist with the disease, allowing other export destinations to be rehabilitated. With these actions, the market in Brazil, a very important demander of Argentine chicken, and several African countries were reopened.

Preventive diversification

With integrated agricultural production, the Eggs family employs 1,300 people in different business units, a responsibility that leads them to carefully consider each step to continue business growth. After achieving differentiation in quality and service in poultry activity, they developed other commercial areas to diversify risks and income.

Thus, with 7,000 agricultural hectares, they supply part of the grain consumption of poultry farming and a recently installed dairy farm. Production occurs in fields near Villa Elisa, complemented by 400 hectares in Federal and another fraction in La Paz, to diversify climatic risks.

“The soils of Entre Ríos are complicated but they improve with direct sowing and the application of technology. In winter we grow wheat and ryegrass crops, and in summer, first- and second-class corn and soybeans on winter crops. 30 % of the corn surface in our own fields is under irrigation to ensure production stability,” he says.

Beyond its own grain production, Eggs’ company implemented a poultry-agricultural integration program, with a group of producers, “which allowed changing the supply matrix of corn and soybeans for poultry production,” says the businessman. .

“Before the agreement, we bought a low percentage of the necessary grains near Villa Elisa and the rest was brought from other provinces, which generated high freight costs. After analyzing this weakness of the company, we decided to create a form of production with which Noelma advances dollars to integrated farmers, who can take advantage of another alternative for marketing their grains by delivering them to the company,” he explains.

“With these agreements, 70% of the grains we consume originated no more than 170km from Villa Elisa, which has a very positive impact on the birds’ feeding costs,” he highlights.

“These agreements brought us a lot of peace of mind about close supply at a competitive cost, and we are going to continue putting energy into growing with this poultry-agricultural integration, which gives grain producers the same payment conditions as shipping to port,” he completes.

Meat and milk livestock

The Eggs develop a complete livestock cycle that begins with extensive breeding in mountain fields. The calves are raised in Villa Elisa with a mainly pastoral system, which combines meadows and winter greenery. Fattening is practised with the same species, intensive grazing in five-hectare plots, and supplementation with balanced feed is done at discretion.

In the forest fields of Federal and La Paz, combined with a small area of ​​winter greens for service, 65-70 kilos of calves are produced per hectare, with 80-82% pregnancy and 75% weaning. The breeds used are Polled Hereford and Angus, crossed to exploit the hybrid vigour.

The Eggs family also founded the Tres Colonias Stud, which sells bulls and heifers of both breeds at its auctions. This cabin presents most females with babies at the foot “so buyers do not have to complicate the births and see what they acquire. Furthermore, this category allows us to charge more pesos than for a pregnant heifer,” Eggs points out.

The Stud Farm has 10 consecutive annual auctions and offers genetics adapted to Mesopotamia, Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Córdoba conditions. “For three years, we have been working with Carlos Ojea as a genetic advisor and with the Select Debernardi team, which provides us with 100% of the semen from the dairy and a large part of the semen corresponding to the production of breeding stock for meat and calves,” he says.

“With them, we look for animals with a good biotype, early fur, that can tolerate the area’s heat well, with high fertility and ease of calving, and characteristics validated in the company’s general herds. We also selected developmental traits for low birth weight but high later growth. We attach great importance to offering an animal that can adapt to different production systems, such as light consumption and export so that buyers can develop different approaches according to the context of each moment,” he summarizes.

“In August 2022, we started with 500 dairy cows on a rented field of 2,600 hectares, which combines milk production with the leverage of agriculture. We separated the farm into two herds, tip and tail. In 2023, we reached an average production of 28 litres per cow per day, incorporating artificial insemination and semen from top breeders. Dairy farming is an activity we like because it is very dynamic, with a cash turnover different from beef farming,” says the businessman.

Strategic hospitality

The Eggs family is the main shareholder of a four-star hotel in the Villa Elisa Thermal Complex and another three-star hotel in Concepción del Uruguay. Hernán’s mother wanted to validate her capacity as an architect by building hotels. The hotel in the Thermal Complex has 80 rooms and overlooks the pools and golf course. Both hotels are strategically located to attract tourism from Uruguay and other neighbouring countries, which grew exponentially during 2022 and 2023.

“The purpose of the venture is for the visitor to leave their vehicle parked and go on foot to all the complex facilities, in an environment of great tranquillity and to dedicate themselves only to enjoying themselves,” he closes.

Carlos Marin Moreno: La Nacion Translated.

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