DN: You have a very sound and friendly team, you can notice it every time you visit the farm.
IB: This is the core of the team that has created over the decades of work. In this group, in these families who live on the territory of the village Kilachevskoe, children are brought up - some of them leave, some stay. Our lifestyle, our traditions and our rules have been established some time ago. So, we live and work.
DN: You set an example and you raise your new generation based on it, it is very important. What are the key components of the manufacturing success?
IB: As elsewhere, the key components of success are, of course, personnel, food, genetics, modern technology, and animal comfort. These all subsequently translate into a final result. If the technological chain fails somewhere, it will be reflected in young stock in two years, an error in the feed will give a negative result in six months.
DN: Going back to the key components of success - have you been using rubber mats for alleys Animat for a long time?
IB: In December our first complex will be 12 years old. In 2013, we installed on all scraper alleys, passages, waiting areas of the dairy complex Animat rubber mats with puzzles. We are planning to install mats in a new complex too. In June, we hope to open it and start milking the animals.
DN: Will it be organized using the same technology as the previous complexes?
IB: We improved some points for comfort: we increased the thickness of the mats. The latest novelty - it will be realized on a secondary priority base on the new complex - are mattresses. We are exploring and testing. They say cows feel even more comfortable. In addition, we improved the design of the cubicles.
IB: The thing is that over the past few years, the size of the animal has changed. The cow has become completely different compared to how it looked at the time when we built our complex 12 years ago. We changed the sizes of the cubicles, added fans. As for the mats, they are installed on the alleys on the first complex.
DN: What is their advantage compared to sand, sawdust?
IB: We still put some sawdust on top of the mats. As for sand, I cannot say for sure. They say that it is a very good bedding, but you need to work properly with it - clean it. Otherwise, it clogs the equipment - for example, milk pumps. Sawdust is used to have drier cubicles. But when standing up and lying down, cows can puncture their hock joints. In other words, there is a wound, and an infection or some pathogenic bacteria might get into it. Therefore, the joints may become inflamed. The mat is even warm to the touch.
DN: At the same time, it is comfortable for animals to move. Farms use different types of bedding, including mats. And now Animat presents mattresses for cubicles - as an imitation of pasture.
IB: We have seen such mattresses this year at the Agrofarm exhibition. Of course, they are twice as expensive as those we have, but I think it's worth it.
DN: In any case, investing in animal comfort is necessary.
IB: Correct. Animal productivity pays us back with what we invest.
DN: What is the productivity trend in recent years?
IB: We are planning to grow by about 5%. But last year was very difficult. When I started working as a chief livestock specialist, I believed that I would achieve certain results and would keep them in the future. But every year is different. Last year, the growth was 6.4%. The gross output in 2018 was equal to 34,049 tons, in 2017 - 31,314 tons.
DN: The trend is quite good especially considering the fact that last year the demand for raw milk was quite low.
IB: Yes, we saw a decline in both prices and demand.
DN: A very interesting question about genetics - do you have it all in your own production?
IB: If we talk about the history of the creation of the herd, we first bred the Tagil breed, then in the late 70s we began cross-breeding of the Tagil cattle with bulls of the black-and-white breed to breed a black-and-white cow. In 1988, we started to inseminate with the bulls of Holstein breed. We have been creating our own herd, we always had more than 1000 heads. Since 2007, we started working with the Genetics dairy company, and inseminating our cows and heifers with the material of the American genetics. We have been working with them for 12 years - we didn’t buy a single cow, we decided to go this way.
DN: In return you do not have leucosis.
IB: Yes, there is no leucosis in the area. And now we inseminate all the heifers with sexed semen. Last year we sold about 300 heads and introduced 1,000 to ourselves, this year we will fill the complex with 700 heads of our own heifers, and we will sell about 500 heads.
DN: Where is the demand coming from?
IB: Now at the moment from the Rostov region. We sell to Bashkiria, to Udmurtia, good sales we have inside of our region. Previous years we sold to Voronezh, to Irkutsk. In other words, we cover the whole country.
DN: How large is your herd in total and how many milking cows do you have currently?
IB: Total livestock - 8200 animals, cows - 3002 heads. About 1000 heifers, female calves - more than 2000. In addition, we have fattening bulls too.
DN: So you keep all milking cows on these rubber mats?
IB: No, only those animals that are in free stall barns. We are building a new complex to gradually get away from tie barns. We are modernizing old farms, although they show quite good results: 9-10 thousand, and one farm has even 11 thousand of milk yield. But it is necessary to redesign - the cow has outgrown the previous cubicles. And milk there costs more - 25-27 rubles. The livestock is poorly served. In general, the need for a change is very acute, although it implies financial investments.
DN: You do everything gradually and systematically to achieve your goal. Coming back to the mats in cubicles - you have been working with them for a long time. Do you remember why exactly this type of mats was chosen?
IB: Most importantly, they are warm, for a cow it is important.
DN: And what is the main diet - how do you feed the animals?
IB: In total, we have developed 4 rations to feed cows: early dry period, transit, diet for milking cows and prior to calving. For each group, feeding is developed separately considering the nutritional value. But each diet exists in three forms - on paper, in a mixer and the one that a cow ate.
DN: Now many people are focusing on increasing protein: they enhance it with additives or increase the content of the oil seed cake.
IB: We face some problems with fat - currently, its level is lower compared to last year. The nutritional value of the feed is lower due to the difference in the conditions of preparing it. We do not do anything specific with feeds. Perhaps someone needs it, for example, to produce special milk suitable for cheese making.
DN: But there are swindlers that water it.
IB: We try to feed our animals with natural feed. We do not use protected fats, although they are widely sold and recommended. If we feed with mill cake, then we take rapeseed cake of our own production. We buy only mineral nutrients, premixes and soybeans. We prepare the rest ourselves. We prepare our own feed for calves; we are getting ready to start making our own prestarter. We prepare the starter ourselves - there is a granulator, we have been doing this for more than a year. There is nothing more stable in feeding than self-cultivated.
Premixes are prepared by Avisar.
DN: Soon, they forecast rains and a fall in temperature, what in general is not that uncommon for the Sverdlovsk region. Your animals probably adapt easily to the changes in weather.
IB: Yes, because livestock is produced on site. I do not recall any negative feedbacks from our buyers. It is beneficial for us that animals adapt easily.
DN: And what about the bulls?
IB: We have fattening bulls. There are excellent examples of the world genetics of bulls, I wish we didn’t have to slaughter them for meat.
DN: Nevertheless, the whole business is also built on this. The main beef supplier in the country is the dairy industry.
IB: Yes, there is a demand, especially since we have our own processing. We have more female calves born. Our slaughterhouse can process 35-40 heads per week, and in a month, it is 120 heads. The demand for meet is almost always met. As a rule, it is not enough of beef as there is a demand for both live weight and meat.
DN: You have your points of sale.
IB: They are few, but there are. At the local level, we managed to consolidate our position on the market. We do not cover Yekaterinburg yet - we have a very small production unit; we need to expand. We milked 6 thousand, we also had 3 lactations, 3.4 is an indicator of the efficient use of cows. Now it is on the same level, but we are milking 11 thousand. With a yield of 6 thousand, we fed 1,500 tons of concentrates the same as today. Back then there were 1,500 cows, and we would receive 6 thousand, now we have 3 thousand cows and the milk yield is over 11 thousand.
DN: Few achieve such results.
IB: In fact, you need to work closely with the preparation of feed and pay a lot of attention to the comfort of cows. After all, even on the farm, it is necessary to change the approaches to animal care: to pushing the feed, cleaning. A great result is made up of small elements. If you start doing the heat synchronization - yes, it is expensive, but there is a result. We have been doing this work since 2012: last year the output of calves was 89.
DN: Did you observe a decrease in injuries in animals after putting them on Animat rubber mats?
IB: When the construction of the complex was just finished, there were almost no mats, they were only in cubicles. When we introduced the first batch of cows, we had 560 heads and 100 heads had to be slaughtered because of the injuries - the animals were sliding and falling. Moreover, these cows were among the best ones. All mats we installed only in 2013. And this problem has disappeared. Economic benefits are vivid and unquestionable. In addition, we are now estimating lameness. I can say that the mats save us.
DN: How high is the culling level because of lameness?
IB: On average, the culling level is about 35%. Lameness is the second reason for culling after breast diseases. Lameness accounts for 16%, breast diseases, respectively, - for 19%. That is, out of 1000 heads, 160 are culled due to lameness - again, these are the best animals. Another important thing is that we cull more animals from tie barns. And there we have a lot of bursitis as the cubicles are uncomfortable. There are also no mats in tie barns - everything is basic there.
DN: So the most important thing is to properly follow the technology and put the needs of the cow above the desire to make it better as it seems right to you.
IB: In our farm, even many workers say that we love cows more than people. But the main thing on the farm is always a cow. It should be at the centre of everything you do.
DN: Thank you very much for the interview!