Profitable dairy farming

Development of dairy farming at Agro-Soyuz Holding

Eastern Europe has all the precursors for development of profitable milk production. The world experience shows that dairy business can and should be developed. There is an acute deficite of dairy products in Ukraine, while the capacities and possibilities of our producers are not used in full.

Dairy farming is a profitable business all over the world. In Ukraine, which has high market capacity, favorable climatic conditions, big areas for crop production and low demand this business is marginal. What should we do to change the situation?

In 1999 the specialists of Agro-Soyuz decided to breathe life into Ukrainian dairy farming and created a model of a modern dairy farm in a partially destroyed old collective farm. The idea of implementation of innovative technologies in milk production based on the world’s experience was translated into a dairy farm.
As of today, we’ve covered a long way of mistakes, gained extensive practical experience, digested this experience and realized a successful project.

Initially old buildings were reconstructed and new equipment and machinery were bought. The former resulted in unjustified investments and the renewed equipment and machinery could not create comfortable conditions for animals, which directly influenced milk yields. The technological specifications of the barns in terms of lighting, ventilation and height did not allow to follow the technological process. This was a sad way of mistakes, which could be avoided if we adopted the experience of strong and successful farms. Only a few can afford to handle this and continue moving forward making conclusions from own mistakes. Those few are the people that wish to learn regardless of mistakes.

The next stage of development was imitation. The owners and the specialists of Agro-Soyuz travelled all over the world studying the experience of the best farms where innovation technologies were successfully implemented. This experience was thoroughly analyzed in order to avoid mistakes made by others. The new technologies and the infrastructure were expected to make the herd more productive and improve profitability of the farm. But it was not enough. We understood that neither the best machinery, nor the best equipment and facilities can make our business profitable. It was necessary to master those technologies and adopt them through the prism of obtained knowledge to be successful.

As a result of thinking, analysis and observations a model of the dairy farm based on free-stall housing and TMR feeding all year round was accepted and developed. This model was successfully implemented at CJSC «Agro-Soyuz». Now it was possible to start talking about main elements of successful dairy farming, such as logistics and economics, in other words — about management. It is known that 70% of success depends on management of the process.

What we’ve achieved and how we plan to develop

Using the world’s experience and having learned and analyzed the trends of dairy farming development the specialists of Agro-Soyuz Holding designed, built and commissioned the first line of the dairy farm. The farm can accommodate 5,000 milking cows with an average productivity of 10,000 liters of milk per cow per year. However, working with 1,850 cows we understood that keeping large number of animals in one place makes management of technological processes more complicated, which in turn reduces the efficiency of the business. That’s why we took a decision to build one more barn at the farm, which brought us to 4 buildings in total, a milking parlor and a 3,200 cow herd. There will be another barn for 3,300 cows built nearby by 2014.

Implementation of innovation technologies in dairy farming of Agro-Soyuz Holding allowed to achieve the following results:

  • Agro-Soyuz’s dairy herd has a status of the Breeding farm of Holstein breed and the primary enterprise on innovation technologies of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine;
  • The model enterprise of the Holding is a member of the leaders club of dairy farms of the world — Cream Club as well as a member of IFCN;
  • In 2009 the dairy farm of Agro-Soyuz was listed in the Registry of special raw-material zones as the enterprise the products of which can be used for baby and dietary food production;
  • The average milk yield per cow is 9,300 liters per year;
  • Qualitative characteristics:
  • — fat — 3,7 %
  • — SCC — 110-120 thousand/ml
  • — protein — 3,3 %
  • — bacterial count — 2-4 thousand cells/ml

Technological processes

The specialists of Agro-Soyuz managed to realize the genetic potential with minimum investments due to optimization of milk production process, in other words:

  • Unified functional system of feed quality management
  • Mobilization of cow body’s reserves (free-stall housing, comfortable stalls, free access to feed and water, optimum environment);
  • Heat synchronization of cows and heifers (a health management program was developed and implemented);
  • Correct raising of young stock.