French genetics appreciated in Argentina
Despite national policies to discourage the import of foreign products, the Argentine
breeders are becoming more and more technical and intensify their production. Today
we are travelling to Rafaela, in the heart of one of the main dairy production areas
of Argentina, together with our guide, Mariano Morra, responsible for sales at CGL
(Centro Genético del Litoral).
Policy of price control
Argentina has a great potential for milk production
with its traditional dairy areas, such as the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fé
and Cordoba, having particularly favorable soil and weather conditions. The country
can also count on processing firms with considerable industrial capacity. However,
large numbers of milk producers are tempted to give up their dairy operations and
turn to large-scale cultivation, taking into account the
current international situation and the insecurities
about the future of the dairy production. In fact, since 2005 the government has
pursued a policy to control the prices of export products; this in order to disconnect
the internal prices from the situation in the rest of the world. The authorities
give priority to the supply of the domestic market. They will not authorize the
opening of the milk export registers until after the internal market has been satisfied.
Breeders have a large capacity to adapt
The competition between milk and soya where the
soil is concerned, makes that Argentine breeders are more and more inclined to make
a comparison between the profitability of their dairy operation and that of soya.
Traditionally, the cows are outside here 365 days a year, which makes the production
economical but subject to the uncertainties of the climatic conditions (not enough
grass in the summer, inundations in 2007…). The cost of production is at around
0.15 Euro/liter in the Rafaela area.
The infrastructure is simple but effective. The feeding of alfalfa is common practice,
astoundingly enough, soya hardly ever forms part
of the feed of the cows. With breeders wanting to intensify production and stock
forage, large stable units start to appear in the landscape and CUMA (cooperatives
for the shared use of agricultural material) are being formed, a new development
in a country where the production process has always been very individualistic.
New developments also go in the direction of the research for better genetics.
To smooth out the milk price fluctuations and increase their income, a number of
breeders have even decided to transform their milk into cheese to make them less
dependent on the market.
French genetics to create solid producers
« I am trying to icrease the milk production and fertility
of my cows » explains Sergio Andres Priotti. This only 25-year-old
farmer has established an operation together with his father and his two brothers,
after a 3-year veterinary study. Together, on 750 ha, they manage a herd of 1000
dairy cows. The rest of the arable land (3000 ha) is used for commercial crops.
That Sergio is motivated by the production of milk, becomes clear very soon. « 80%
the ration consists of the cows grazing alfalfa,
and the cows have to walk a lot. The basis of our herd consists of national genetics,
which are called “Holando Argentino”, and we have to correct them for problems with
the legs. Today we are selecting French bulls and in particular pay attention to
that requirement ». Over the last 18 months, this breeder has used 100%
bulls of Gènes Diffusion. « Among the bulls that we use, SURFEIT and ARTOIS do offer a good compromise between milk,
quality of the legs and fertility ».
Indisputable cheese qualities
Luis Gisbert not only is a veterinary, he
is also selling veterinary products and semen, and he manages the family farm. He
takes pride in showing us his cheese dairy « La Rivera ». Twice a day, the 5000
liters of milk that are daily produced by the 200 milking cows of the operation
are being transformed here. « Contents is what interests me most. I used to work
with genetics from New Zealand, however the udders are not up to the production
level of my cows. I have chosen for French genetics because they combine great cheese
qualities with outstanding udder attachments. ROUMARE is my favorite, but also bulls such as SPORT and TASMAN, – very good udder transmitters as well –
form part of the bulls that I am using ».
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