Helping out Russia

Posted on November 2nd in Feature Story

Dignitaries seek expertise from Harney County professionals on raising cattle

Assistant Professor and Beef Cattle Specialist Reinaldo Cooke of Harney County recently traveled to Russia to offer instruction. (Submitted photo.)

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Looking to drastically increase their beef production,  Russian dignitaries have asked for help from Harney County, or more specifically, from Dr. Reinaldo Cooke, assistant professor and beef cattle specialist at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Center.

At the current time, Russia produces 20 percent of its own beef and imports the other 80 percent, and because of an increased demand, they are now trying to reverse those numbers.

Cooke left Burns Oct. 9, to attend a conference in Ufa, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia.

Cooke said that the people putting on the conference had read some of his published works and invited him to speak to a group of veterinarians, nutritionists and beef producers in the area.

The invitation came from Bioenergia, a livestock feed company, and the Republic’s government. “They asked me to come to explain how to feed beef cattle,” Cooke said.

The main points of Cooke’s presentation focused on the importance of nutrition, genetic selection and health management.

Russian herds

The differences in the way the Ufa ranchers raised cattle were evident right away.  The cattle are raised in enclosed feed lots, with about 4,000 head in each lot, and they’re not dehorned, which results in numerous injuries.

The cattle are also not specifically beef cattle breeds. “They don’t differentiate between dairy cattle and beef cattle. If a male is born in the dairy herd, he just becomes a part of the beef herd,” Cooke said. “That’s one of the main problems, trying to get beef cattle of Holsteins.”

Cooke said he explained to them the importance of having dairy and beef as two separate industries and they were receptive to the idea.

When it comes to feeding the animals, the supply is not the problem. “They have a lot of good quality feed available, like grass, alfalfa and grains,” Cooke said. “They just don’t have the quality of animal to match the feed.”

Getting started

The first part of a plan that Cooke helped them work on was to establish a herd of cattle that are a specific beef breed. From there it was concentrating on nutrition, product, genetics and health management.

While the goal of producing 80 percent of their own beef is an attainable goal, Cooke stated that it’s not going to happen overnight. “Right now, the majority of their beef is imported from Brazil because they don’t have a beef industry,” Cooke said. “They have to build one, and it takes a long time, like decades.”

Now that there is a management plan in place, Cooke said he will stay in touch with the producers and give help where he can.

The main reason for Russia to increase beef production seems to be influence of Western civilization. “In Ufa, a city of 1.2 million people, there are steakhouses and fast food places all over,” Cooke said. “People are eating more beef.”

Impressions

As for his impressions of the country, Cooke said he never thought about going to Russia before, but he was impressed. “Their culture is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Cooke stated. “Every  morning at 6:30 the national anthem is blared across the city on a speaker system. It was very surreal. The city was very clean and it was a very nice experience.”

Cooke said he’d like to return next year because he would be more familiar with what they were looking for and could offer more help.

While he might have been the one who made the trip, Cooke acknowledged a lot went into having it come together. “It’s not just me,” Cooke said. “It says a lot for OSU and the Harney County community to have Russia find somebody in Burns to come over and speak to them about the beef industry.”



Leave a Reply





Whaddya Think?

Which is your favorite horror film?

Loading ... Loading ...

Destination Harney County

Destination Harney County 2012

Archives

Litehouse Technology

Litehouse Technology Logo

Desert Historic Theatre

Desert Historic Theatre

Ruthie's In His Image Photography

Ruthies In His Image Photography

Map of Burns

Sex Offenders

For a list of sex offenders in your area, call the Oregon State Police sex offenders hotline 503-378-3720