Pens of Angus and Hereford cattle were eating modified distillers grains with silage at the Price feedlot north of Mandan last week. But in a few months, these cattle will be airlifted out of Bismarck and a couple of other North Dakota airports and transported across the ocean to Kazakhstan.
“They’ll all be grazing overseas in the fall,” said Bill Price.
Price took a group of livestock producers who are members of North Dakota Stockmen’s Association on a tour around the feedlot last week.
The tour was part of NDSA’s District 4 Spring Roundup. Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of NDSA, said they are having six roundups across the state this month, with each district holding its own program.
Price, who owns the feedlot with his brother Dan, said he hopes to have the first live animals shipped on Oct. 1.
The airlift is part of a venture between Global Beef Consultants, LLC, and Kazmeat, a beef production company in Kazakhstan.
Global Beef is a partnership composed of Bill and Dan Price, Dr. Vern Anderson, NDSU animal scientist, and Mike Seifert, an international accountant and North Dakota producer.
The joint venture, which is called KazBeef, is in the process of building a 5,000-head feedlot along with a beef processing unit in Kazakhstan. During the next two years, the new venture plans to build an additional 15 feeding sites, which will allow it to start beef exports overseas, according to KazBeef.
Kazakhstan is an oil-rich country with 15 million people that used to be part of the former Soviet Union. It has known significant hunger in its past, Price said.
Now its government is working to increase livestock agriculture and has set aside millions of dollars to develop cattle genetics and increase livestock technologies.
“Agriculture is very important to the Kazakhstan government because their people have known what it was like to be hungry,” Price said.
For instance, the farmers in the country now operate large farms, utilizing the latest models of farm equipment, with GPS, high-tech sprayers and the other kinds of ag equipment American farmers are accustomed to.
“They are paying $6.50 today for wheat and last year, they beat us with wheat production,” Price said.
Costs are cheaper in Kazakhstan, with urea costing only $20/ton even though most of it comes from China, just as it does in the U.S. Fuel is 80 cents a gallon. The country has complete free trade and has no tariffs on imports, according to Price.
Global Beef has a staff currently in place at its ranch in Kazakhstan who are currently raising domestic cattle there. However they need the hardy Northern Plains cattle for cross-breeding and to improve the genetics in the domestic herd.
That’s why North and South Dakota cattle are being airlifted to the ranch. Plans are to take 1,000 bred Angus and 1,000 bred Herefords over there in October and November this year.
“As you all know, it takes many years to build up the genetics,” Price said. “The people of Kazakhstan still see America as having the best genetics.”
Anderson wrote a research paper on what the Angus breed could do for the domestic herd, because the government was not used to the Angus breed of cattle.
Global Beef also hired a Jamestown, N.D., rancher who has traveled extensively overseas and likes Kazakhstan, which looks much like the Dakotas. He will live on the ranch and run the operation over there.
“Kazakhstan looks a lot like North and South Dakota. It’s got its own Black Hills and Red River Valley,” Price said.
It’s important that they demonstrate they are not just taking the cattle over there and leaving them, according to Price. That was done once before and has left the Kazakhstan government leaders somewhat skeptical about other ventures.
Global Beef will travel with the animals and bring producers over to show the locals who are working with the cattle how to raise them. They will continue to work with them on raising and feeding cattle as KazBeef develops.
For one thing, ranchers in Kazakhstan have not dehorned or castrated cattle in the past and are just learning the latest livestock technologies, Price said. Ranchers there own large ranches, from 50,000 to a million acres in size.
“They really need a nutritionist over there,” Price said.
That’s where Global Beef and other U.S. livestock enterprises will be able to help, to improve the diets of the cattle in that country, and show producers the importance of providing mineral and other supplements which are infrequently used. In addition, they want to set up a vaccination program.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for livestock agriculture in Kazakhstan right now, and the government is willing to pay for it,” Price said.
It takes a large airliner and an airport with enough runway size to do the airlift, but the Bismarck airport has indicated it can ship out 208 head at a time. Fargo may be able to ship out some cattle, and Grand Forks definitely has an airport large enough to do the remainder, he said.
Fed Ex and Korean Air both have airliners large enough to ship cattle, and the cost is about a half-million dollars a load. It will take many loads to bring over the 2,000 head of cattle Global Beef is planning for.
“We’d like the cattle to ship out of North Dakota and keep those dollars here in the state,” Price said, adding that if they are transported out of another state, a transport fee is charged just to move the cattle into the plane and a quarantine fee per day is charged.
The airlines will fly straight through and refuel once in Finland or Frankfurt, Germany.
“It’s exciting,” Price said. “The government wants us to bring more Americans with us over there. We can sell our genetics to a whole new market.”
Source: Farm & Ranch Guide
Posted by Kaci Switzer