A Montana veterinarian’s recent trip to Russia was an eye-opener.
Fifty years ago, I was given a trip to the National Western Stock Show in Denver for my high school graduation gift. I was exposed to many new and incredible experiences there. History does indeed repeat itself, because recently I had the same experience when I traveled to Bryansk, Russia, to tour ranches owned by Miratorg. I saw 110,000 cows owned by the same owner, and toured a new feedlot built to handle the increased Russian demand for high-quality beef.
I was honored recently to be invited by Miratorg to interview for a senior bovine practitioner position to lead the company’s veterinary department activities in Russia. I was one of eight candidates who interviewed in Bryansk, located about 270 miles southwest of Moscow. The interview consisted of four days of touring several Miratorg ranches, its feedlot and feedlot expansion process, and meetings with Miratorg’s board of directors. In addition, I met with Evgeniy Albokrinov, Miratorg’s beef production director, discussing cow-calf herd health, based on my recommendations from observations of visiting many Miratorg ranches.
A recent headline in a Moscow newspaper read, “Soon rib-eyes may take their place alongside vodka and cigarettes as Russian favorites.” Based on what I saw, I wouldn’t disagree.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has an ambitious plan to cut his country’s $3 billion annual import bill for beef. He even aspires to return Russia’s beef industry to its pre-revolutionary stature. If all goes according to plan, Russia could someday send foreign beef suppliers like Tyson Foods and São Paulo-based Brasil Foods heading for other markets.
Miratorg is the leading investor in the Russian agribusiness industry. It’s the largest meat producer and supplier in the Russian market, thanks to its high-performing vertically integrated agribusiness holding that took a leading position in production, processing, logistic supplies and sales of agricultural products. Its investments into production, processing and agro-industrial infrastructure facilities implemented for 2005 to 2012 exceed $2.7 billion.
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Miratorg’s beef holdings make it the world’s largest vertically integrated beef production operation with 110,000 cows now, and plans to expand to 225,000 cows in the next three years. There is currently a 49,000-head feedlot, with the opening anticipated by September of another 45,000-head feedlot currently under construction and a new high-tech meat processing and packing plant located one mile from the feedlot. In addition to its beef holdings, Miratorg is the largest pork producer in Russia and is among the country’s top five poultry producers.
The entire operation is owned by two stockholders, Russian businessmen with extensive experience and success in agribusiness. The company has integrated beef, pork and poultry enterprises from conception to retail distribution with annual production goals of 3 million pigs, 50 million broilers and 200,000 cattle. Miratorg employs 16,000 people in 16 Russian regions.
Starting in 2011, Miratorg's subsidiary, Bryansk Meat Company (BMC), began a new project with the importation of 125,000 Black Angus heifers from Australia and America. Located in the Bryansk region of Russia, BMC is one of the largest and fastest-growing beef cattle operations in the world.
And its efforts to produce high-quality beef continue. Miratorg received 22,000 yearling steers the end of May that were shipped from Perth, Australia, through the Suez Canal and trucked 24 hours from ports on the Black Sea. These yearlings were imported to meet contracts for high-quality beef later this fall. The operation weaned 50,000 calves in 2013, and 97,000 cows and heifers are scheduled to calve in 2014. The first of two new state-of-the-art feedlots received the first Angus cattle in February, 2014.
The beef processing plant is under construction and will be launched this fall. BMC plans to have one of the largest and fastest growing beef cattle operations in the world with a production target of 4,000 cattle/week to be processed per eight-hour shift.
Miratorg has its sights set on being the premier protein supplier for Russia, and is well on its way to achieving that goal with a major investment in its cattle production facilities. I saw one of the most modern, efficient and productive vertically integrated cattle production systems imaginable. Who could have imagined that 50 years ago?
Editor’s note—Bob Sager, Wilsall, MT, retired as a cow-calf veterinarian, then obtained his master’s degree in animal nutrition in 2011. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in animal nutrition and will complete his degree in December 2014.
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