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Friday 21 September 2018

Russian frontier opens up for Irish agri-tech companies

The 100-unit custom built Dairymaster milking parlour
The 100-unit custom built Dairymaster milking parlour
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Russian farms the size of Co Clare are proving lucrative for Irish agri-tech companies who recently travelled to the Agrofarm agriculture show near Moscow.

Dairymaster, Moocall, Lir Agri and Weatherbys Scientific showcased their products to 12,000 visitors at the event.

Dairymaster's international business development manager Fergus O Meara said their rotary parlours received a lot of interest from new and existing Russian customers. Although herd sizes are extremely large in Russia, many have yet to convert to rotary style systems.

"There are operations with 18,000 cows. The smallest of projects we came across was 1,200," he said. "We are happy with how it went. We met a customer milking 7,000 cows and looking for rotary parlours and increased automation to save labour.

"A lot of cows are still tethered but farmers have the hectares to back it up and now they want the technology. They're a very straight-talking customer."

Traditional system

Moocall's Paul Kenny explained that the high immortality rate of calves in Russia is an area they hope to target.

"At the moment it's a very traditional system there. 24pc of calves die at birth. This is obviously an avenue we feel we could aim our products towards," he said.

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Ian Sanders of Weatherbys Scientific, which is involved in animal husbandry, said while it was "an early and developing market in Russia, we still managed to sign deals."

Meanwhile, Teagasc and Sustainable Food Systems Ireland (SFSI) signed an agreement with Russian researchers to establish a database of the genetics of cattle herds in the Tatarstan region in Russia.

Speaking about the agreement, which is set to come in to place in March, SFSI's David Butler said: "The Irish genomics story is a compelling one and one that the Russians were interested in.

"Ireland's experience as a pioneer in adopting genomics as the preferred selection method in breeding is seen as valuable to Russian authorities."

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