At the annual reporting meeting of NARMS in the town of Troyan we met with Angel Vodenicharov, who is the owner of the farm in the village of Dabnitsa. He took a few minutes to tell us about himself.The village of Dabnitsa is located in the westernmost part of the beautiful Rhodope Mountains, next to the delta of the Mesta River, which separates it from the rocky Pirin. Nature has generously endowed the region with picturesque places and a mild climate, extremely suitable for the development of cattle breeding.
– Hello, Mr. Vodenicharov, please tell us something about yourself in a few words.
– Hello, my name is Angel Vodenicharov and I have been engaged in cattle breeding for over 25 years. I started trading in animals and that’s how the idea of a farm was born. I started with beef breeds as the first animal I bought was a bull that was sold at auction. There were many such auctions during the liquidation of the then farms. I began to gradually increase the number of animals, buying cows of different breeds – beef, black, crossbreeds. In 2011 I decided to start breeding mainly Montbeliard and Simmental breeds.
– What attracted you to these breeds?
– The market and the qualities of the animals themselves. They were not very common then, but my friend had them on his farm and I had the opportunity to see the differences in the qualities of the animals and the production. I started inseminating my own animals with seeds from Simmental and Montbeliard and at the same time I bought about 15 purebred heifers from the farm in Priboy. I gradually cleared the herd and currently have 20 animals of both breeds and only a few crosses
– The climate here is very suitable for raising animals. Did you have any difficulties with the adaptation of both breeds?
– No, the animals feel good and are very easy to keep. Durable, calm and do not create any problems. They are allowed to graze freely in my areas with an electric shepherd and have constant access to food and water. I produce the roughage myself and buy the compound feed.
– What is most important, according to experience, in animal nutrition?
– Silage – nothing happens without it! Silage, alfalfa, straw and good living conditions – if this is provided, the animals return all the effort and investment many times over!
– What should not be allowed?
– As a big mistake I consider the all-day grazing, which years ago was a common practice for me and my colleagues. Animals are exhausted, lose a lot of energy, the quality of food is controversial, and production, both in quantity and quality, is very poor. Now that the animals are close to the farm and the food is selected specifically for their needs, the difference is drastic. Their health is also better. I am constantly striving to improve the conditions on the farm and this is paying off. Of course, there is still much to be desired, but I am happy with what has been achieved on the farm in recent years.
– Who did you turn to when you started? Who will advise you on the right practices regarding nutrition and breeding?
– I consulted with various nutritionists from the companies that supply us, and in terms of growing conditions, Mr. Atanasov – the chairman of NARMS helped me a lot, for which I am very grateful.
– How do you inseminate?
– Mostly artificial. I also have a purebred bull that was purchased with a certificate from another farm that is a member of the Association. I am also satisfied with its offspring, but artificial insemination gives very good results and an opportunity to improve the offspring and production with each succeeding generation. The random plan, if followed, the results are visible. The average daily milk yield has increased significantly and is now over 25 liters.
– Why are you a member of the Association?
– Of course, the subsidy is important and in the beginning for me this was the leading reason for membership, but over time I saw that there are many other and more important benefits. Administrative assistance is indispensable and I have not previously assessed the importance of recording everything and monitoring developments so that results can be assessed. In every respect I have received assistance – for advice, contacts or the right choice for the needs of the farm. Communicating with other members is also very useful to compare our experiences and learn from our mistakes.
– What do you think about the early insemination, which was also the topic of the reporting meeting of NARMS? Do you think it is a profitable practice?
– I support the thesis of Professor Nikolov, who categorically opposed the insemination of animals before they reached sexual and physical maturity for this! These 2 or 3 months, which will be “saved” are unlikely to bring so much income, and the chance of injuries and side problems is high. I do not think this practice is profitable. Not to mention that it also creates many documentary problems administratively.
– Did you build the farm with your own funds or did you receive help from the state?
-Exclusively with my own funds. The building was as small as a garage. I gradually developed it and I am happy with the result. I tried to apply for several programs, but the paperwork refused me honestly. Now, as far as I know, documents under measure 4.1 are to be accepted and I am thinking of applying.
– Did animal husbandry “catch” you unprepared? Did you know what you were doing?
– Of course! One thinks that one knows everything and then in time one sees that one has to learn from “A” and “B”. My colleagues and I have gradually become specialists and we are trying to develop constantly. Cattle breeding is definitely my vocation, and it requires a lot of work and no day off – one must constantly learn and develop!
– What would you advise young colleagues?
– To work, to learn from those who have already gone through this and not to be afraid of problems!
– Thank you for your time and we will visit you on the farm soon!
– And I thank you and I will be waiting for you