Today we take you to flat Thrace, where next to the town of Haskovo, in the village of Trakiets, is the farm of Shaban Shaban. Together with his family, he has been breeding purebred Simmentals there for over 10 years, and has been a breeder for as long as he can remember.
We enter the farm and besides the beautiful Simmentals, who have turned their heads to us with curiosity, Shaban welcomes us with his relatives. Before telling us his story, the smiling farmer proudly shows us his herd, which is not small and impresses with its quality animals. We know in advance that there are no workers in this farm and we can’t wait to find out how he manages to take care of the farm on his own and keep it in such a well-maintained order.
– Hello, introduce yourself in a few words.
– Hello, my name is Shaban Selyakhtin Shaban and I am from the neighboring village of Teketo, district Haskovo. I turned 40 this year. I have been involved in animal husbandry all my life. I inherited the love for animals from my grandfather and father, who also raised animals. Ever since I was a child, I was sure that this would be my path and I never even thought of doing anything else.
I graduated from the Technical School of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, which later helped me a lot in the activities I develop. We have been involved in dairy farming as a family since 2005, before that we raised sheep and fattened calves.
In 2005 we started with 25 cows. The following year we bought from the former cooperative farm the place where the farm where we are located was built. The first animals were as they were at the time – black-and-white and their crosses.
Thanks to Dr. Mustafov from the village of Konush, 10 years ago we focused on the breed we are currently breeding – Simmental. He then imported embryos from the breed from Germany. I bought a bull from him and started inseminating only with him on the farm.
– What time difference did you find?
– At first it was difficult to see any huge difference, but gradually, with the clearing of the herd, the results are visible. Especially in recent years, the offspring and dairy products we have on the farm cannot be compared at all to what we received from the crosses.
– The animals we see at the moment are obtained only by invasive crossbreeding !? Haven’t you ever bought purebred animals outside?
– We have not purchased additional purebred animals. With a lot of effort and for almost a decade we managed to clean the herd almost 100% and today we breed purebred Simmentals here for my great pride!
– How many animals are currently in the herd and how do you inseminate them?
– We currently have about 150 heads – cows, heifers and female calves, which we have left for breeding. I inseminate completely artificially, for this purpose I completed a course and personally inseminate my animals. I use seed material from elite German and Austrian bulls, and the result is there.
– How long have you been a member of NARMS?
– For 5 years.
– You have been growing Simmental for more than 10 years, and you are only 5 in the association. Why did you join us so late?
– In the interest of truth, due to lack of sufficient information and because I kept postponing. You know how busy the daily life of cattle breeders is, there is no day off. One understands the benefits of membership once one is a member. Only then can you see the huge administrative and any help that your colleagues provide us. Of course, the leading motive for me was initially the subsidy, because any financial aid is vital for the development of the farm. But over time and working together, I became convinced of the importance of administrative assistance and the useful advice I receive. This helped me a lot for the effective cleaning of the herd and I am already used to the fact that the assistant for our region – Maria Karadalieva, and the chairman of NARMS, are always available if I have questions or need advice or contacts. Thank them for that! I rely on Maria a lot, because she keeps all the documentation and I am calm. After all, we are not clerks, but breeders, and I can’t walk around with a notebook all day. Administrative work is also very important and NARMS helps us a lot in this regard.
– You are a family farm and have no workers. Do you manage to cope on your own?
– It is difficult, but we succeed. Everyone helps, and I’m at work almost around the clock. We have decided to manage on our own and not look for additional labor, because usually people come to work whom they cannot rely on, unfortunately. Irresponsible, lazy, and some with a dubious past. I can’t let strangers on my farm, where my relatives and animals are, in which I have put so much heart and effort. The wolf has a thick neck because he does his job alone!
We invest in equipment and this makes the job much easier. This time I plan to follow, instead of being dependent on strangers who can leave without warning and steal something before that!
– What recent renovations have you made on the farm?
– Central milk line, which really relieved us a lot! Last year we bought a feed distribution trailer, which is also a big help. We used to raise animals on pasture, and now we watch them freely boxing. This change in technology immediately affected the production and condition of the animals – they now produce more milk, with better quality and are healthier and more energetic.
– Do you produce your own feed?
– Half yes. Feeding the crib requires more food and we have to buy extra. We have certain rations and recipes that we prepare in the mixer, and for each group of animals the ration is different – dairy, dry, adolescents.
– Your path was predestined by your grandfather and father. Have you ever wanted to do something else?
– I didn’t have time to think at all, to be honest.But not! I would not change anything. This is what I want from a child and I would choose this path again.
– Are your children interested in this activity?
– I have two sons. The eldest chose another development and is now studying at the Technical School of Confectionery and Restaurant Management in Haskovo. The little one is here at the moment and helps. After all, this is their decision. I want them to be healthy and happy, and whatever they decide next.
– Are subsidies enough help for you?
– Only thanks to them we still survive. Otherwise, I don’t know how we will cope. There is not enough money at all. The price of Simmental milk is the same as that of other breeds, nothing that is much better.
– Have you thought about your own dairy?
– Of course, but the lack of labor stopped us. This is a very serious problem.
– Is it easy to be a cattle breeder in Bulgaria? When was the last time you went on vacation?
– Nothing is easy in Bulgaria, and with us the work is round the clock and daily. Our life is just a job! I have forgotten since I went on vacation. Last time we had workers, 5-6 years ago, and it worked very well for me, but it will hardly happen again, unfortunately. I send my wife and children at least to have fun and rest. We cultivate about 400 decares of land ourselves and together with the care of the animals there is no way to rest.
– Are you about to make a new purchase or renovation on the farm?- There is always something to be desired, but children grow up and priorities change. They need funds for their education, and that is the most important thing!
– Do you help your colleagues in the region?
– No such thing! On the contrary – if there is something that everyone will stop you, unfortunately. In our area only squabbles and intrigues and in the end everyone is saved individually. This is the Bulgarian mentality, and here it is very pronounced here. We don’t even communicate with each other!
In the West, people help each other – with machines, with advice and whatever it takes. Here everyone is looking to use you and by helping him only trouble and disappointment. I gave up trying. Envy and evil are everywhere. For example, our neighbors here tenants are supposed to be more literate people, but we do not communicate with all three. Mentality! That’s why we are stuck in one place and we will not recover!
– Have you tried to apply for any assistance?
– Yes, unfortunately unsuccessful, as more points are given to rural areas. Our farm is also in the village of Trakiets, but since it belongs to the Haskovo municipality, it turned out that we are not in a rural area. Absolute nonsense! And I gave up on that – you just pay and finally disappointment.
– It is difficult for you, but you love your animals!
– Of course! This job is for life! It is not a shop to close it and open another! I love my animals and will keep them for life as long as I have the strength.
– What will you wish your colleagues?
– Health, perseverance and help each other more! I can only thank NARMS and ask you to organize the meetings closer to us so that we can come and communicate with colleagues. This will make me very happy!
– Thank you for your time!
– It was very nice to see you again!