We continue our conversation with Dr. Karamfilov – a lecturer at the Agricultural University in Plovdiv. In the first part he told us in detail about his research on the Montbeliard breed in Bulgaria.

– Dr. Karamfilov, in the previous interview you said that during the development of your dissertation you studied the adaptation of Montbeliard in Bulgaria. Could you tell us something more in this direction.

The breed and its pedigree were officially recognized in 1889, and the region of Montbeliard (foothills of the French Alps) contributed to its identity, originality and high adaptability. The region of its creation provides excellent opportunities for stable – pasture breeding of animals, as they spend most of the year grazing. The use of such breeding technology is even mandatory in animals whose milk, as we have said, is used for the production of certain dairy products, e.g. comte ’. The pastures there give completely different, characteristic taste qualities of the production. The grassing is long and lasts from early spring to late autumn. In practice, the animals live on pastures during this period. Grazing has a rich botanical composition, which provides high nutritional value.

In Bulgaria the situation is quite different – here the grass burns in June, July – due to high temperatures. The nutritional qualities of the grass are completely different, and the purity of the pastures is not even similar to the alpine one. In France, as silage degrades or at least changes the quality of production, hay is cut, which the animals feed on mainly in winter when they are not grazing. As it is impossible for the Bulgarian farmer to provide alpine cultivation conditions, optimal cultivation technology is needed here to compensate for the differences in climatic, regional and economic features in order to achieve high milk yield. In the years of our study, statistics showed a decline in the milk yield of the population. This was due to various factors – incorrect breeding technology, the introduction of new young animals from their own reproduction, whose potential was not developed, etc. After 2015, this period of adaptation passed and the development is in the opposite direction, ie. the average milk yield tends to increase with each passing year. This is a signal that the breed is adapting and developing very well in Bulgaria. I dare say that the Bulgarian farmer is already a literate businessman and provides the necessary living conditions on his farm – he reads, is interested and strives for development. – Should the technology of cultivation be adapted to the climatic differences in the different regions? In Bulgaria there are farms that have a difference of over 1000 m in altitude. Can they keep their animals the same?

No matter where the farm is located on the territory of our country, the breeding technology must provide optimal conditions for realizing the potential of the Montbeliard breed. Of course, differences in climate and region are huge. We need to look for technology that is appropriate and tailored to the region, and not blindly copy the experience (even positive) from farms with completely different temperature and natural conditions. Proper nutrition is very important and should be tailored to the needs of the animals. If this is present, high average milk productivity and good reproduction can be achieved in Bulgaria, which are competitive with the French population of the breed.

– You mentioned high temperatures. What should be paid attention to when raising animals to help them cope with the heat, which is typical for some of the regions in Bulgaria?

Ventilation is required. The breed prefers lower temperatures and in this regard they must be provided with the necessary comfort. They feel best in an amplitude between 5 – 18 degrees and when the temperature greatly exceeds these values, the animals use their energy to cope with the heat, and they need it for milk production, which naturally leads to a decrease in quality and quantity. of dairy production. Thermoregulation is very important and should not be underestimated!

– What else do we need to know about Montbeliard to achieve the desired results?

With regard to the functional qualities of animals, we must pay attention to some of the main directions of development of selection in the breed, which give it a huge advantage among the combined breeds.

The first is the ease of calving. Montbeliard is characterized by exceptional ease of calving, which has its very important economic significance – less animal loss, less need for assistance staff. This is combined with a very calm and easy to learn temperament. The animals are not aggressive, they easily get used to the milking parlors and daily procedures, which also makes it much easier to keep them even without additional staff. Much attention should be paid to the proper course of milking, as a process! The breed is selected on the basis of a set of indicators related to the morphology and functionality of the udder. This provides Montbeliard cows with long-term economic use due to lower levels of marriage caused by udder injuries. Montbeliard has a very good and functionally suitable udder, suitable for any type of milking parlor, which is another of its strong advantages.

Another very important direction in the selection of the breed is the low content of somatic cells. In this respect, the Montbeliard breed is more resistant than other breeds and much less often animals get mastitis and udder inflammation.

In essence, Montbeliard is a combined breed and in addition to high quality dairy products, it also has very good meat productivity. Calves grow very fast during the milk period and then achieve excellent average daily growth. The yield is very good for a combined breed. Fattening is optimal for a short period of time and the required slaughter weight is reached quickly. Reach the Union (S) EUROP classification – up to R class, which is a very good result for a combined breed. Montbeliard’s good performance in this area is definitely a prerequisite for fattening male offspring and producing meat with very good taste.

– Say a few words about the second, but not important breed with which our association – Simmental. What is important to know about this breed?

First of all, let us note that this is the second most widespread breed of cattle in the world and this can be easily explained by the many positive biological and economic qualities of its representatives. The birthplace of the Simmentals is Switzerland. It is a curious fact that attempts to create a Bulgarian Simmental breed were also made under the name “Bulgarian Simmental cattle”. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful.

Due to the large import of the breed and the intensive inbreeding of Simmental bulls from abroad with Bulgarian animals of different breeds, there is currently a new different population of Simmental in Bulgaria. It has completely different characteristics and manifestations and has not yet been studied in any way. With the exception of the data obtained from the activities of the breeding association NARMS, there is no other statistical or research information on the development of Simmental in Bulgaria. This is a direction in which we have yet to work.

There is a lot of data worldwide – the first breeding book of Simmental in Switzerland dates from 1809. You can imagine the long-term accumulation of data what is the level of selection of the breed there. Here we are literally at a primitive level in this regard.

– Do you plan to analyze the Simmental population in Bulgaria soon?

We have started work in some areas and are currently studying the data on the milk productivity of animals that are in the first lactation. The data we have are provided to us entirely by the Breeding Association, which is an example of punctuality in every respect and definitely carries out its activities without giving in any way to such Western organizations. The data are very accurate and thanks to this cooperation I hope in the near future to have a very precise and useful practical analysis of the development of the Simmental breed in Bulgaria. We are very grateful for the full cooperation we receive from the Association! Cooperation between research and breeding is essential to achieve better results with maximum practical applicability on farms. I can safely say that NARMS is one of the few breeding associations in Bulgaria that cooperates with science and helps us in our desire to be useful to the Bulgarian farmer to reach the level of his colleagues in developed countries!

– On behalf of NARMS, thank you for the positive assessment of our work! Thank you for your time and valuable information. We will visit you again to discuss other specific topics to be useful to our farmers. Do you agree?

 – Of course! I will be happy to work in a team.