Wyoming heifers en route to RussiaWritten by Jennifer Womack
Eldon Krebs of Whitestone-Krebs near Gordon, Neb. is gathering the heifers that will be shipped to Russia via water in four lots of 900 head each. One ship is nearing departure and the 50 head from Shawn Booth and family will be part of the second shipment.
“They are registered fall heifer calves that are open,” says Booth of the cattle his family sold to Russia via Krebs.
Booth said the heifers will be in Nebraska for three weeks before they’re shipped to Michigan to a USDA quarantine facility. After a month at that location the heifers will be loaded on a ship destined for Russia. “They’re quarantined there for a month and then end up going to Kaluga, Russia,” says Booth. “It’s about 100 miles southeast of Moscow.”
Booth said a portion of their heifers from last year’s dispersal sale also ended up in Russia, although he wasn’t aware of their ultimate destination at the time of their sale. “That first group of heifers went out on an airplane out of O’Hare International in Chicago.” Shipment by sea, explains Booth, allows more cattle to be shipped in a single load.
Booth says the Russian customer has a goal of raising cattle to meet the needs of Russia’s growing middle class. The cattle will be used as seedstock in Russia. “There are a lot of poverty level people in Russia and they just don’t have the livestock,” he explains, noting their current diets are largely comprised of pork and vegetables.
“They’re slowly developing a middle class,” says Booth. “They’re thinking that the middle class living will make it so these folks are able to afford to eat some beef.” Booth says one of Krebs’ former employees and his wife are working at the ranch in Russia that is purchasing the cattle, in an effort to help the country develop its beef industry.
Booth anticipates his cattle will arrive at the ranch in Russia by late October. “They’re going to have quite a change of scenery,” he laughs. The climate has been compared to that of southern Minnesota and wetter than what the cattle are accustomed to in Wyoming.
“They were looking for really sound cattle with high quality genetics,” says Booth. He says they were looking for a balance of calving ease, carcass and growth.
To establish ranching in Russia, Booth says a great deal of work needs to be done. “They don’t have facilities. There are no fences and no buildings.” The Russian veterinarian working in Nebraska was surprised by their ability to process 900 head for shipment in one day. Booth says in Russia the vet said they were lucky to do 25 in one day.