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– Try to develop your bird’s taste by introducing natural fruit juices–then start on the solid fruit. New foods and pelleted diets may be mixed with the seed diet during a transition to a healthier pellet-based diet.


– NEVER feed any bird a diet of wild bird seeds!


– Use Nutriberries as a treat. They are more nutritionally balanced than seeds.

In order to correct this problem, pelleted avian diets have been formulated to provide balanced nutrition for your pet birds. To supplement these diets, a variety of fresh foods should be fed on a daily basis. Birds have a poorly developed sense of smell and taste. The appearance and texture of food, however, will strongly affect what they will eat. Once birds become accustomed to a seed diet, anything different is usually approached with a great deal of skepticism. DO NOT GIVE UP! It often take months to gradually change your bird’s old eating habits to a more healthful one.

– Canned fruits and vegetables should be avoided due to a high sugar and salt content, which may tend to cause diarrhea or other health problems.

The Newmarket-based stud farms host helipads, tennis courts and even an “equine hydrotherapy” pool. Sheikh Mohammed also owns a £45m mansion, Dalham Hall, in the area.

David Tyndall, a director of Saker Estates, has previously served as a director of Darley, Godolphin, Pegasi Management Company and Smech Management Company, and is widely linked to Sheikh Mohammed.

When contacted by Unearthed , Saker Estates and Pegasi Management Company declined to comment.

Racing tracks and equine swimming pool at Godolphin’s Moulton Paddocks, in Newmarket. Photo: David J. Green / Alamy

Equine swimming pool

With its recent acquisitions of Wander Tuinier Succulenten (June), Hobaho (September) and Olij Rozen (October 2016), Dümmen Orange has once again been making the headlines. The Dutch ornamentals breeding conglomerate is aiming for a global top three position in the ten best-selling crop groups and is not wasting any time getting there. “There is still a whole lot to gain in ornamental plant breeding,” says CEO Biense Visser. “We’re working on that.”

Clearly, the investors behind Dümmen Orange have that confidence and their pockets are deep enough to finance the rapid expansion. Who are these investors and what motivates them?
Visser: “The consortium was set up by Agribio Management, with financial support from banks and the Amsterdam private equity fund H2. Private equity is venture capital that is put together by pension funds and wealthy individuals. They fill a pot with money and invest specifically in one or more companies. The return should primarily come from the appreciation in the investment over the term, which is usually between five and seven years. Ultimately the interests are sold and the investors get their money back plus the return realised.”
Shortly after Visser joined the company, H2 sold its stake to the British private equity fund BC Partners, which had an even bigger pot. “And they saw the potential in our company, otherwise they would not have taken this step,” the CEO continues. “With the new capital injection we can expand our organisation – especially the R&D and ICT departments – and our breeding programmes more quickly through business acquisitions. We must all work together to ensure that this company represents greater value by 2020, when BC Partners are likely to withdraw.”

Sales market changing

They are working hard on that. Managing Director R&D Hans van den Heuvel (also from a vegetable breeding background) has headed the central research department since January 2015 and a lot of young, highly trained specialists have been taken on. The group will shortly be opening an elite centre for mother plants in Rheinberg, Germany, and something similar will be happening for tissue culture in Spain.
Nevertheless, it will take many years to capture a 25% market share in each of the top ten crops. “We are well on the way with rose, chrysanthemum and carnation, but there are also some white spots on the map,” Visser acknowledges. “In tropical plants, we already work with Anthurium, but we don’t yet cover orchid and Bromelia. Flowers from seed are another white spot that we still need to colour in. Ball Seeds and Syngenta dominate that market segment but they are not for sale. Starting from scratch is too time-consuming and if you take over small businesses you have to buy a whole string of them to make any impression. Collaborating with parties in the middle segment makes the most sense. We’ll see what happens. But one thing is certain: this company is going to be producing varieties that growers and consumers can currently only dream of.”

From 2002 until its takeover by Monsanto in 2008, Visser was CEO of the Dutch seed breeding company De Ruiter Seeds. He knows a thing or two about the breeding business and also has experience in business acquisition. According to the CEO, breeding practices in ornamentals lag behind those in vegetable production.
“Vegetable seeds have been produced using state-of-the-art techniques for decades,” he says. “You just have to think about DNA-assisted breeding and genetic markers, cell biology techniques such as embryo rescue, the dihaploid technique, and so on. Producing hybrids with inbred lines is standard practice. We hardly ever see these techniques in ornamental plant breeding yet; people tend rather to work on a trial-and-error basis and using visual selection. A lot of crops are largely bred by amateurs. And with all due respect to their dedication and product knowledge, crossing plants is not the same as targeted breeding. The latter is our core business.”
To enable it to work in a smarter and more targeted way, Dümmen Orange is a shareholder in Wageningen-based Genetwister, a company that is pushing the boundaries in biotechnology. This makes it the only business in the ornamentals sector that is investing in new knowledge and applications at this level.

What is feeding Dümmen Orange’s growth ambition? Visser: “The realisation that the sales market is changing. In the United States, as many as 60-70% of ornamentals are now sold by big box retailers like Walmart and Home Depot. And it’s heading that way in Europe and Asia too. These companies’ category managers can spend up to three years translating range selections into sales-ready concepts and adequate volumes. If you want to get in with these parties, you need to involve them in what you’re doing at an early stage. And, if possible, offer a complete programme in the crop top ten. That’s what we are aiming for, because we want to be a serious discussion partner. To achieve this we will have to take bigger steps in innovation – for consumers, retailers and, of course, growers – as well as in terms of expanding and upscaling.”