Kuban Agro first to produce Holstein dairy embryos in Russia
05.04.2016 / Dairyreporter.com, Jim Cornall
Kuban Agro, the largest agricultural company in southern Russia, has produced 233 transplant dairy heifers over the last two years, becoming the first Russian agricultural company to adopt embryo transfer technology in the Holstein breed.

Hit by the deepening economic downturn, national currency devaluation and increased interest rates, Kuban Agro says that Russian agribusiness is looking for ways to replace imports.

About 60% of breeding cattle and 80% of bovine semen used by Russian farmers are imported. As the value of the ruble has decreased, import prices have more than doubled.

Many Russian agribusinesses import Holsteins but Kuban Agro is the first to produce its own Holstein embryos.

The company says that the technology not only accelerates herd turnover but also improves dairy herd genomics and increases profitability of the cattle breeding in general.

New center leads to transplants

Two years ago the company opened the Embryo Biotechnology Center in Ust-Labinsk to focus on cattle genomics and dairy herd quality.

Since the opening of the Embryo Biotechnology Center in 2014, Kuban Agro has received 478 transplant calves including 233 dairy heifers from nearly 400 Holstein cows.

Over 2,000 embryos have been flushed from donor Holsteins since 2014. Some have been frozen, the remainder have been implanted to 1,211 Ayrshire cows resulting in 649 pregnancies.

Anton Ulanov, CEO of Kuban Agro, said: “A payback period for an imported 1,000-strong heavy milking herd reaches 12 years in Russia. No wonder that embryo transfer technology seems increasingly attractive as it resonates with Russia’s widely-discussed import substitution efforts, boosts productivity of the dairy herd and reduces dependence on US and Canadian import.

Transplant heifer starts to produce milk two years after birth making embryo transfer an irreplaceable technology for high profit margin products. An annual milk yield from a Holstein first-calf heifer is up to 10 tons while an Ayrshire breed produces only six tons.”

Kuban Agro with 5,000 employees, is one of the biggest companies in agricultural sector in Russia. It is the part of diversified industrial group Basic Element.