Hielke Wiersma is in charge of the development of our crossbreeding concepts as the new Product Manager for VikingCross.
Hielke is 33 years old and was born in a family farm in Friesland in the Netherlands. His parents Johannes and Wietske had 50 head cows, but since the Netherlands does not have an extensive agricultural area, they decided to move to Denmark to breed the cows they wanted. “They were evaluating Canada, but Denmark came up and they chose it since it is closer to the Netherlands”, Hielke says.
His parents, Hielke and his three brothers came to Denmark when he was seven years old. He grew up surrounded by cows, heifers and calves. Their parents had 250 cows. “Breeding has always fascinated me”, he says and recalls a time when he felt so proud to have bought his own calf from his father, at only nine years old.
The family were interested in shows, but as Hielke grow up he also saw the importance of a commercial cow. He decided to follow his dream to work in the cattle breeding sector, and in 2008 he started work as a breeding advisor in VikingDanmark where he also got the opportunity to continue with his studies.
By 2012, Hielke was hired by VikingGenetics as an Export Manager, an opportunity that gave him the chance to build an international network of contacts. In this position he learned a lot about the commercialization of cattle breeding, and he took part in the development of the three-way crossbreed ProCROSS in many markets.
In 2016, Hielke explored the opportunity to expand a livestock plan with VikingDanmark. With all these valuable experiences he has now became the person in charge of developing the Viking crosses – a new post created to support and grow this area. He started his position on 1 June.
“I am looking at the existing concepts to develop them further. In my new role it will be very important to listen to our customers and what the dairy farmers are expecting from us in these areas”, he says.
VikingGenetics, together with the French Artificial Insemination (AI) company Coopex, owns ProCROSS, where VikingRed, VikingHolstein and Montbeliarde complement each other when breeding ProCROSS cows. In addition, VikingGenetics’ own breeding plans - VikingRed, VikingHolstein and VikingJersey - balance each other in a crossbreeding concept: GoldenCross.
“There is certainly a market for all kind of breeders; those that prefer pure breeding and those that want to crossbreed their herds. And for the ones that want to cross, it will be a pleasure to listen about how they want to do it and help them”, he says.
Being an admirer of show cows himself, he understands the passion for pure breeding and the importance of having committed pure breeders. “I understand the feeling of having a show cow, my father did, and I’m not going to mock passionate pure breeders. On the contrary - we need them!”, he says.
Hielke lives in Herning, Denmark and is married to Randi, with whom he has a daughter, Maddie (4 years old) and a son, Christian (1 year old). In his free time he likes gardening and spending time with family and friends.