And today we stay in the area of Gotse Delchev, where we will meet with Hussein Yusuf – owner of a farm in the village of Breznitsa, where he breeds the Simmental breed. The region in which we are located, in addition to being endowed with picturesque nature, is also among the most suitable in Bulgaria for breeding Simmental, as the regional features strongly resemble those in the homeland of the breed.
For this reason, beautiful and dignified animals can be seen in many farms in the region, which is also characterized by exceptional cleanliness and favorable climate.
Mr. Yusuf is a successful and established businessman in the field of tailoring services, who only 6 years ago decided to embark on animal husbandry.
He will tell us how he compensated for the lack of experience, how sewing and animal husbandry combine, whether his business experience helped him and how much he has to do every day to manage his endeavors successfully.
– Hello, Mr. Yusuf! Tell us about yourself.
– Hello, I say Hussein Yusuf, I am from the village of Breznitsa, I am 47 years old. I have been involved in animal husbandry since 2014, and I have been a member of the association since 2015. I bought the first animals from Haskovo, which were Simmental crosses. Subsequently, I bought several purebreds from the town of Belitsa.
Currently, I keep a total of 53 animals on the farm, 37 of which are under selection control, and the rest are crossbreeds.
– You’ve been a breeder recently. What activity did you develop before?
– I have been engaged in sewing for many years. I have been developing this business for 18 years and we are currently making items for the domestic market of Greece.
– In the presence of a developed and successful business in a radically different industry, how did you decide to take on the difficult activity of a farmer?
– I have always had a love for animals. My father was a cattle foreman for many years and I grew up in stables and among animals. We always had animals at home, but not a farm. Now things are very different, but the foundation was laid in my childhood and I never lacked the desire to do it.
– However, regardless of your childhood, animal husbandry is studied throughout life. Did you manage to gain experience for these 6 years?
At first, the idea was not so serious. My father-in-law had animals to graze. I decided to buy the first few cows and let them go with his and if anything happened, it happened. Subsequently, it turned out that this was in my blood and I began to look more seriously at this activity, and to develop it willingly. Then I contacted the Association and bought the first purebred Simmentals, because I had decided that I would produce something of quality.
The difference between crosses and pure animals was huge. This motivates me even more. The region in which we are located is extremely suitable for breeding Simmental and the climatic conditions are very similar to the birthplace of the breed. The animals feel extremely well and this affects their production. This is definitely the breed I want to breed – healthy, calm animals with excellent offspring and very high quality products!
– In the beginning all your animals were grazing. Do you still grow them that way?
– Indeed, in the beginning all the animals were grazing all year round, although my farm is for milk.
Two years ago, however, after my eldest daughter got married, her husband wanted to help me grow the business. It was thanks to my son-in-law that my dream to start milking dairy animals and raising them came true. He helps very actively on the farm and the “fault” to change the technology of cultivation in the right direction is entirely his. I am grateful to him and we have been producing milk for processing for almost 2 years now.
The herd is currently divided into two. Dairy animals that are under selective control are raised in the barn, and crosses are left for year-round grazing and we raise them only for meat.
– What are the main differences in dairy and meat cattle breeding?
– The differences are huge. Dairy cows require a strictly defined diet and if high results are sought, there is no way to graze and what they find to feed. The association helps me to consult regarding food recipes. Before that I was not familiar at all and I greatly underestimated the importance of proper nutrition for dairy products. It turned out to be of paramount importance and the results were not long in coming.
– With the change in animal husbandry, you have started artificial insemination. What necessitated this decision and what were the results?
– In the beginning, our farm was not artificially inseminated due to the breeding technology. The animals were grazing all year round and it was impossible, and at that time there was no one to inseminate them, no one to watch them and chase them in the mountains. It was impossible.
After moving the dairy to the barn, we now inseminate them artificially. We also inseminate the crosses that are grazing with a purebred bull, bought by another member of the association – Yordan Erinin from the town of Bansko.
– Are the results of the first offspring from artificial insemination good?
– Definitely. They are visible at first glance. As I said, nutrition and selection are greatly underestimated until one sees the first results. They are already available with us.
– Against the background of the experience of colleagues, you are a relatively new farmer. Did they help you make up for the lack of experience?
– Yes, in our region the colleagues are extremely united. Iliya Kafalov, Angel Vodenicharov, Georgi Urumov and several other breeders helped me a lot and without their help and advice it would have been very difficult for me to cope, especially in the beginning.
– Do you get a better price for Simmental milk?
– No, in Bulgaria, unfortunately, there will be no such practice. However, it is certainly more sought after and dairies buy it with priority.
– Since you had to learn on the go on a trial-and-error basis, which error do you consider to be the most instructive?
– The underestimation of proper nutrition, which years ago was a common practice. It is the basis of a profitable farm and now from the standpoint of experience I realize how wrong the unbalanced diet was.
– You have long existed in the Bulgarian business reality. What is it like to be a farmer in Bulgaria?
– The business, no matter in which branch, depends on a good business plan. Isn’t there a strategy for a person, if he is without direction for the future, if he goes with the flow, he is doomed. Livestock is definitely not a mouthful and requires awareness, perseverance and direction.
– Have you already enjoyed, in your role as a breeder, some normative absurdity?
– The absurdities in our country have no end! Even at the moment, this is exactly what is happening to me. Because the farm grows 100 decares of potatoes on two fields and at the moment one of the products has been harvested and the other has not yet. , and for the other they ask why there are potatoes and they are not taken out. It turns out that both are a problem for them. I try to explain that I have now started collecting the production and normally start first from one level and then from the other. I don’t have the capacity to take them out at once, but obviously this is incomprehensible.
Their other spectacular problem is why cows (which are not from my herd) were at the levels already processed at the time of the inspection. Once we have removed the potatoes, we do not monitor whether grazing animals pass through it. However, this is the number one problem of the institutions.
Such situations are commonplace, but on the other hand, interest in how to support our activities has not been shown so far.
– Are the inspectors in question aware of what potatoes look like and how they are grown?
– I doubt it when I’m asked such questions.
– You said that in the region you are united with your colleagues. Aren’t you considering some form of partnership that will allow you to defend your rights in such situations?
– We have commented on it many times and similar solutions are being considered, but we are still just “thinking”. It is certainly important and we must defend our rights together!
– Do you plan to visit foreign farms and exhibitions to see how things happen in countries with traditions?
– Of course! I have a great desire and I will do it as soon as possible after the current pandemic crisis. I think it will be very useful for me, because I really want things to happen the right way.
– What optimizations do you plan in the farm?
– Our priority is the construction of a central milk pipeline and then we are considering a mini dairy that we will realize in a year, I hope. The production of own dairy products is a natural goal of every farm in my opinion.
– We wish you a fact soon! How do you deal with the labor crisis? For many farms, it proves to be a serious problem, even enough to shut down.
– It is extremely difficult, really! Constant presence and control is required. One must be ready to do everything alone and be constantly alert. Every day I start at 4.30 am and end at 11.00 pm. No day off and no free time.
I repeat, if it were not for my son-in-law, who with such enthusiasm decided to help and develop the activity, I would not be able to physically change things and today to think about improving milking, dairy, etc. Despite his higher education and opportunities for realization, he chose to engage in animal husbandry, which is worthy of respect and I am definitely very lucky with him.
– How do you see yourself in 5 years?
– I hope we double the number of animals and they’re all purebreds. Let the dairy be a fact, to be healthy and to work.
– Are you satisfied with your cooperation in the Association? Do you need more assistance?
– To put it mildly, I am satisfied – I have received assistance in every direction and for me this membership is a source of full development and positive change!
– Thank you for your time and we will soon expect news about the new dairy, and for the steps you will take with colleagues to defend their position before the institutions!
– And for me it will be more than satisfactory and I will brag to you first! See you soon!