Today we are again in the Razlog valley, dividing our beautiful mountains Rila, Pirin and Rhodope. Here, on the outskirts of Razlog, Georgi Cholev has built his farm and breeds the Simmental breed.
While we wait for him to finish milking on a sunny Saturday morning, we use the time to take pictures of the picturesque nature and lush pastures against the backdrop of the majestic Pirin.
Georgi finishes, offers us a kind coffee and tells us with a smile about his journey as a breeder.
– Hello, Mr. Cholev. Tell us about yourself. Since when and how did you decide to engage in dairy farming?
– Hello and welcome! My name is Georgi Cholev and I am 47 years old from the town of Razlog. Since 2006 I have a farm that I am developing on the outskirts of the city. Before that I was involved in various things, mainly in the field of woodworking. There have always been animals in my family – my grandfather and great-grandfather were breeders. I inherited their love for animals and it was only a matter of time before I took this path.
– How many and what animals did you start with in the beginning?
– At that time there was not much choice and my first animals were brown and black-and-white crosses, as there were mainly in the region. I started with 2, 3, 4 and then gradually increased them. Today I have over 60 animals and almost all of them are purebred Simmental. I have no imported animals, they are all offspring of my own animals. I also have a few that I bought from farms in Northern Bulgaria. For 7-8 years I have been inseminating only artificially with Simmental seed material – since I have been a member of the Association.
– How did you approach this breed? What is characteristic of it?
– I bought animals from Northern Bulgaria and there I saw pure Simmental in 2-3 farms. At first glance I really liked them and I decided – this will be the breed! While I am a farmer I will always have Simmental – calm animals with excellent production, and our region is very suitable for their breeding. Even at the first lactation they give excellent results, they are healthy and have no problem with calving. There is no basis at all for the quality of the milk between the first animals I started with and my current herd. I recommend to every colleague who has yet to make a choice of breed for his farm, to choose Simmental – there is no way to later regret his decision!
When a person takes the necessary care of the cows, when he feeds them properly and puts his heart into his work, things happen with patience and a lot of work. I don’t have a day off and my work is a lot, but it’s definitely worth it and I’m happy!
– How do you raise them, what do you consider the most important thing in their nutrition?
– I grow them in pastures. I use my own meadows, which I maintain constantly to provide them with a full daily ration. Hay and alfalfa are my own production. We milk them on a central milk line, but some time ago everything was done by hand.
For me, the most important thing is to give animals food of proven origin – the work on production is a lot, but it’s worth it. The rations should be tailored to the age and condition of each cow. Special attention and care should be paid to adolescents.
– What was on the farm site before you bought it?
– Old yard of a cooperative farm for sheep breeding. Gradually I began to join the neighboring pastures. Over the years we have adapted the building, but there is still much to be desired.
– You started from scratch and built everything yourself without relying on credit or someone’s financial backing. How did you manage to do that?
– It was very difficult, but I’m not complaining – I said it was worth it. When one creates and leaves behind something, the satisfaction is greatest. I would do it again if I had to! But whoever undertakes this work must be aware that he will have to completely change his life and attitude, and be ready to give 100% of himself.
– Do you get a better price for milk?
– Yes, there is a difference, because of the much higher quality than that of black – colorful animals. I don’t have any problems with the dairy – they are correct and fulfill their commitments on time. The conditions in our region are good, but I know that there are colleagues who do not. In this respect, we are lucky here.
– Do they check you often? Does the state help you?
– They do this to us in the order of things. When a person does his job properly, there are no problems. I am grateful for the subsidy – it is a great help for us. There is no need to complain about the state – one has to cope regardless of the circumstances and rely mainly on oneself. If we are constantly looking for who is to blame and who to blame, we will always find him, but the truth is that everything depends mainly on ourselves. Without effort there are no results!
– You recently became a father for the first time. Congratulations and good health and good luck to the little heir from us! How do you manage to combine daily farm care with family care?
– Thanks to my great wife! She takes care of the home and the family, and that gives me great peace of mind. I am very grateful to her, because when a man has a serious and responsible woman by his side, he can achieve everything. She also helps me on the farm, working entirely on the animal movement archive. The peace of home is very important!
– If you go back in time, would you choose the same path? Have things changed since you started the farm?
– Yes, I would no doubt choose the same path. It was really hard and I went through a lot of hard times, but it was worth it. Now things are much easier – the conditions in the country have changed, they already subsidize us, and over the years I have learned many things and this definitely helps me.
The only thing that has not changed is the price of milk… .. 12 years ago it was 60 stotinki and now it is the same, and the standard and costs have meanwhile doubled and tripled. This is one of the reasons why their colleagues are not engaged in dairy production and more and more farms are switching to beef cattle breeding. Dairies understand each other and impose a monopoly. We manufacturers have no choice.
– Do you have any recommendations for the Association?
No, none, because over the years I have always received assistance and help for everything. The quality of the seed material is shown by the results of each succeeding generation. I am very pleased!
– How do you see yourself in 5 years?
– I only hope that we are alive and well, that we work, and that I have the opportunity to modernize the farm a little so that it is easier for me and, above all, more comfortable for the animals. I will not change the breed, I will only increase the herd.
– We wish you from the bottom of our hearts. Especially health! We will visit you again and we hope you will introduce us to the heir next time.
– Of course! It was very nice. Health and good luck to you and congratulations to all colleagues!