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Yep. Virginia cow farmers are making a concerted effort to send some of their finest bulls to Russia. Apparently decades of communism and turmoil have depleted the breeding stock. And Russian cow farmers prefer actual animals to the shipments of semen or embryos that seem to suffice elsewhere… because there aren’t a lot of artificial insemination livestock experts hanging around? Either that, or they just love these beautiful Holsteins so much they have to have them the way a car lover just has to have a Ferrari.
I suspect it’s a case of total Holstein love more than the article’s claim that Russians are ‘lacking expertise in assisted bovine reproductive technology.’ Couldn’t they acquire that expertise faster than the ten years it took to negotiate this deal? Right now, the Russians are the only country with regular space flights. Ok, occasionally a satellite launch goes awry and skywatchers pontificate about space debris while comedians crack jokes about Russian probes, but the farmers of Russia could surely inseminate a cow if they wanted to.
Russia may be poor, corrupt and completely hostage to unfortunate social patterns, but it is actually a decently educated country. Adult literacy is nearly 100%. Check out these UNESCO statistics. When compared to the United States, there’s a spending and quality issue at the university level but you can’t say Russians aren’t smart enough to inseminate cows, complicated though it may be.
They just want our Holsteins.
And they want them bad, bad enough to negotiate for ten years just to acquire sixty bulls.
For one thing, they are beautiful animals.
And for another, they are profitable and productive for farmers. Holstein Association USA includes the phrase ‘for maximum profit’ in its logo. The government reports that Holsteins are “well known around the world for her ability to produce large volumes of milk, butterfat and protein. She is a very profitable cow for farmers when large amounts of feed with high levels of grain are available.” Apparently Holsteins can produce nearly three times as much milk a year compared to Russian cows, which were bred for both meat and dairy production and not great at either.
Don’t worry. American ranchers are exporting Angus and Hereford bulls at an even faster pace so Russia will soon have plenty of steak. And milk. Russians are so desperate to improve their herds they will do anything to improve productivity from their animals, including giving them televisions and bras because a mere pasture isn’t enough.
But back to Virginian dairy farmers. They’re cleverly taking advantage of the low dollar and the high demand for their product and it’s a great business concept, for now. In a few years, the Russian dairy herd will recover. What’s the next step for Virginia dairies? Perhaps the Virginia Dairy Princess knows…