Today we will meet you with Mihail Alexandrov. He owns a farm with nearly 200 purebred Simmentals, which he raises in the village of Ruptsi, Vidin region.

Until three decades ago, the town of Vidin and the region of the extreme northwest had a tradition of breeding Simmental and here the population of the breed was the largest. However, after the changes and the liquidation of the cooperative farms, the number of Simmental cows decreased drastically to almost reach the bottom. There are many reasons for this, but among the main ones are the monopoly purchase of milk at the lowest prices in the country, liter by liter, regardless of the quality indicators of the product.

In the last few years, there has been another increase in interest in the breed and an increase in the number of Simmentals, although the market situation in the region is still far from the national average.

Why he decided to breed Simmental, how he organized the production and what are his plans for the future, Mikhail tells us today.

 – Hello, Mr. Alexandrov, tell us about yourself in a few words.

– Hello and thank you for the interview invitation. My name is Mihail Alexandrov and I am 48 years old. I am from Vidin.

– You are not a hereditary cattle breeder. How and when did you decide to develop your own farm?

– I really am not. About 20 years ago I first had an experience in cattle breeding and for almost 5 years I had a farm with crosses of the Simmental breed. It was grown in the region before the advent of democracy and was a natural choice at the time. I had to close down because I was running a transport business in parallel and it was impossible to combine the two activities.

However, this experience gave me a good foundation and preparation today to return to cattle breeding and to develop the farm with a more prepared view of things.

– Tell us about the farm. How long has it been around, how many and what kind of animals do you have and what breeding technology have you chosen?

– The current farm is located in the village of Ruptsi, Vidin region. We keep nearly 200 animals of the Simmental breed, most of which I bought from another farm, a member of NARMS, the one in the village of Staliyska Mahala, Lom region. The technology we have chosen is free-box breeding. We have a 2×10 milking parlor, herringbone type. Currently, there are 150 dairy animals. We perform insemination only artificially with seed material from the Association. We use synchronization schemes. Otherwise it will be very difficult for us and we will need additional labor.

–  What was on the farm?

– Old stables, which have undergone a complete reconstruction.

– Did you encounter difficulties in starting your business?

– Only in the categorization of the farm in terms of milk samples. The milk we produce is of very high quality, but the test results still did not meet the requirements…

-… and in the end what? Did you have to get the necessary permits in the “second way”?

– No, and I wouldn’t agree. In our farm everything is in order and legal. Despite the difficulties and delays, I kept it right.

– Have you already encountered other absurdities and obstacles from the institutions?

– Not for now. To my joy, the institutions have not created any problems for us and so far we have received full cooperation.

– What has changed in our country since the time you developed your first farm? Is it easier to be a cattle breeder now than it was 20 years ago?

– Nothing has changed!” As if time has stopped! The price of milk in our country is still unacceptably low, and there is no change in the attitude of the state. The only positive development that I see and it is tangible is in the work of the Association.

Twenty years ago, we were members of associations that mainly simulated activity and there was no talk of selection at all. The work in NARMS today is done precisely and responsibly and we receive assistance of all kinds – administrative assistance, quality seed material and access to information. I am very pleased with this cooperation!

– How did you manage to gain experience that takes a lot of time and build such a good farm?

– With a lot of reading and visits to Bulgarian and foreign colleagues. Western European farms really have a lot to teach us. There, the animals are mainly cared for by family members and rarely rely on outside workers. Everything is automated and civilized. This is my aspiration. In our animal farm we take care of a total of 4 people and we manage to cope.

– The staff is one of the most serious problems of most of the farms in Bulgaria. Some even cease operations for this reason.

– No, we do not have this problem here, we have been together since the establishment of the farm. In order to keep people, regular and adequate payment and good treatment are needed.

– You gave the example of Western farms, but there the reality is quite different. Do you think that the support in Bulgaria is distributed on a fair basis?

– My opinion on subsidies is completely different from the opinion of most colleagues. For me, they should not be received at all, because instead of help, they become an end in themselves and an opportunity to benefit people who actually have no ambitions to develop in animal husbandry. They do it at the expense of those who really make an effort and strive for something meaningful. This strongly demotivates and instead of being useful it turns out to be harmful.

Despite the difficulties, I believe that those who can and should not receive subsidies should survive, at least not in the way that is happening at the moment.

– Have you thought to cooperate with colleagues to build a dairy on the example of Western cooperatives?

– At the local level with colleagues we help each other a lot, but in general in Bulgaria this type of cooperative, unfortunately, is impossible. Bulgarians do not know how to be united and everyone is saved as best they can. It turns out to be easier to deal with yourself and save yourself future problems that will inevitably come.

The only way for such an association to work effectively, in my opinion, is if it is initiated and controlled by an organization such as NARMS, which will impose clear rules and priorities.

– We will think about this… You are building a modern and promising economy. Is there anyone to inherit your work? Are your children interested in the activity?

– To my great joy – yes!

– What should the colleagues who are just starting to be very careful about?

– What animals they buy and how they inseminate. The only difficulty I had with the Simmental breed was in terms of breeding. Synchronization turned out to be a good solution, but as you know it is also a bigger expense.

– What will you wish to your colleagues in the Association?

– Health, hard work, perseverance and patience – the results can not come!

– Thank you and I hope that the first guests you will invite to the new dairy will be us to tell our colleagues!

– Of course! Thanks for your time and see you soon!