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29 Oct 2021

“I can always learn something when I visit farms”

To listen and learn from others is one of his favorite things to do when travelling representing VikingGenetics. As our Export Manager, Seppo Niskanen has overseen markets with a large dairy cattle population.

Seppo Niskanen was born on a small dairy farm in the countryside in Kuhmo in Finland. It was during that time that his passion and interest in animals began and continued to accompany him throughout his life.

When his parents moved from the farm to the city, his interest in animals did not wane. On the contrary: “I was studying at the horse breeding school, then I decided that I really wanted to make a living out of something with animals, but perhaps not with horses”, he remembers.

In 1997, he earned his degree in Animal Science and Genetics at the University of Helsinki. “I think that the most important thing during my studies was when I was working as an AI technician during the summer, so I was able to see what I was studying first-hand, and I was able to meet a lot of people and cows”.

In 1997, just before his graduation, he started to work for Faba - which joined VikingGenetics in 2010.


The importance of listening

Seppo has very strong social skills that help him to best approach farmers in the markets he operates. Listening, discussing and bringing out customized solutions to specific challenges has opened many international doors to him.

“I can always learn something when I visit farms in Finland, Sweden or Denmark or any of the countries I visit”, he states.

“It's interesting to see, talk and listen to people. I want to hear what kind of problems they have and what kind of happy things they have achieved”, he adds.

Seppo Niskanen

Different countries, different situations

Seppo Niskanen has been working all around the world, in big and small cattle breeding markets, with different management systems and climates.

He has been working with VikingGenetics partners in Russia and China, African countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania and now the latest market on his list, Nigeria, which has the biggest cattle population in Africa.

“The tools and methods they use are slightly different. They have different feeding management systems and they have summer the whole year round. They don't have problems with cold weather but have issues with cattle performing under extreme heat”, he says.


A product that works everywhere

Here is where listening, empathy and knowledge work successfully for the farmers’ benefit.  “Africa or Eastern European countries differ compared with our own home countries. I can't go and say that you have to do things this way because they have a different situation”.

Fortunately, he says, “we have a product which works everywhere, and we are owned by farmers, meaning they procure the best for their herds”.

Resilient, medium-sized cows that are feed-efficient and produce high levels of milk and solids are the kind of cows that the main markets are demanding. And cattle health - our strength - is required everywhere.

In his free time, this export expert likes “riding and reading, in addition to theatre and cycling”.

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Seppo Niskanen