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On-farm in Russia (IV): Future plans for Cherkizovo

Russia is full of stories. From a visit to Cherkizovo’s brand new sow farm, called ‘Dankov Lipetsk 89’, a range of interesting tales came together. Today, part IV of a four-part series from pig-producing Russia: What are Cherkizovo’s aims for the future?

In the previous episodes of the ‘On-farm in Russia’ series, Pig Progress learnt about the motivations and size of Russian swine integrator Cherkizovo, went inside a modern swine farm near Lipetsk and copied down the take-home messages from Cherkizovo’s experiences with ASF.

Add all these ingredients together and an exciting cocktail comes into existence. A highly efficient and modern integration, which has learnt a lot of wise lessons on how to stay free from African Swine Fever, and neighbouring China where there will soon be a very high demand to everything that concerns pigs – predominantly gilts to restock the breeding herd.

It’s breeding time at Lipetsk 8, a farm owned by Cherkizovo. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
It’s breeding time at Lipetsk 8, a farm owned by Cherkizovo. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Possibilities to export from Russia to China

Generally it is believed that permission will be granted towards the end of the year for the importing of pigs and pork from Russia to China. Keeping that in mind, it may not come as a big surprise that Topigs Norsvin and Cherkizovo could find each other in helping each other on a bit longer term. Cherkizovo is already the Topigs Norsvin priority supplier in Russia. Both parties are looking into other ways how the cooperation can be more intensified.

Brad Heron, director of the pork division at Cherkizovo, says: “If the borders open up then we will be able to immediately sell a 1,000 gilts a week above our internal needs and Russian customer demands. We believe this because of Russia’s ability to have traceability.”

First-parity sows are kept in groups after weaning. They receive ad lib feed to recover quicker. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
First-parity sows are kept in groups after weaning. They receive ad lib feed to recover quicker. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

Huge demand coming from China

Once the borders of China will open and carcasses are allowed to be transported, a lot is going to happen, Mr Heron says. “Then there will be a huge demand coming from China and Russia is going to be there when it happens.”

He is confident about it all. “Russia has a competitive advantage that it already has known about ASF for a long time. They know how to deal with it and how to prevent it. I am 100% convinced that in the future, say in 5 to 10 years, Cherkizovo will be in a position to be the global leader in supplying high quality genetic material.”

A gestating sow in one of the 6 gestating houses at Lipetsk 8. Photo: Vincent ter Beek
A gestating sow in one of the 6 gestating houses at Lipetsk 8. Photo: Vincent ter Beek

The pork industry is a global industry

So all in all, Mr Heron is an American expat happily speaking of ‘we’ when passionately discussing the opportunities for Cherkizovo globally. He changed his perspective since 2014 when he just arrived at Cherkizovo and was immediately facing ASF outbreaks.

Mr Heron says, “I have always viewed the pork industry as a global industry. This is why we our organisation helped facilitate collaboration work between Russia’s federal ASF research centre director Denis Kolbasov and Pipestone Systems because ASF and its potential impact on the global food supply is more important than politics.”

Surely the secret of Russia’s pig potential gripped him entirely.

Did you miss part I, part II or part III of this series? Just follow these links!

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