RUSSIA – Federal money should not support inefficient milk herds, Russian Livestock minister Vladimir Labinov told a seminal cow health lecture last week.
Addressing the DeLaval cow longevity conference in St Petersburg, Mr Labinov explained that long service periods are sucking funds out of the federal pocket.
A service period of 120 days costs a business 16,000 rubles per cow, he told the international audience of veterinarians, farmers, government officials and advisers.
This equates to 32.5 billion rubles nationally when extrapolated on a national scale for average Russian service period length.
He said the government cannot go on ‘compensating negligence’.
“By taking from the federal pocket like this we are spoiling farming with incompetent investment,” said Mr Labinov.
“It is when factors of lost profits are added together that we can see how to get greater value and what is behind insufficient farms.”
A Country of Contrasts
Regardless of the farming problem, the solutions depend hugely on geography.
Russian climates constrain forage rations and management styles but at no point is a farmer in Russia’s agricultural regions put at a disadvantage by location alone.
He said the figures show no clear conclusions about dairy efficiency being linked to location.
“Cost of production in the northwest is 2 rubels per litre higher but nature can’t explain this,” said Mr Labinov. “Climate zones do not necessarily impact on farm profit.”
Mr Labinov stressed that there can be huge productivity variation in one breed and in one particular area.
Referring to recent farm data showing a 14 per cent rise in profits, he explained that the Volga region boasts a lot of profitability due to lower production costs.
But he added Siberian farms are also very profitable.
“Production costs vary massively in the Urals. Siberia and the northern Caucuses can have a very similar cost base," he said.
Above all, he stressed the need to use local breeds and go for hybrid vigour.
“We can see huge variation in the fact that local cows give more milk than imported animals.
"Simmental often gives good yields but not all imports result in success. We must be using local breeds as well.”