Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan combined Inward Mission

Wednesday19th June, a group of 12 delegates from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan made the journey to Edinburgh to view and experience the best of UK farming at The Royal Highland Show.

Organised by the Kazakh Embassy in Astana with UKTAG, the group were greeted in Edinburgh at a meal sponsored by The Aberdeen Angus Society and The Hereford Cattle Society.  This first night surpassed expectations with an atmosphere of shared enthusiasm for fantastic cattle and a mutual interest in agriculture.

On Thursday they made their way to the Royal Highland Show where they witnessed the best of breeds on display and in competition at the show.

The delegates were extremely impressed with the Hereford Champion bull and immediately began discussions on collection of semen to export to Kazakhstan.

Friday, everyone was up early for the journey to ABP Perth where the meat processor hosted them to a full tour of the facility from the end product working back through the facility to the lairage where the cattle arrived.  Again, they were fascinated by the professionalism of the British facility and urged ABP to open a new plant in Kazakhstan.  From there it was back to the RHS for a quieter afternoon of souvenir hunting and final discussions with the breed representatives.

The Angus president gave each delegate a bag of gifts from the society and hoped that the meeting would continue the trade with breeders in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

Saturday the minibus set out for the Highlands to see an SRUC farm where Angus x cattle are reared in extreme conditions and where breeding programmes aim to produce a medium sized beef cow that can produce and rear a calf each year in hard conditions with minimal input.

On from there we went to the world renowned Netherton Angus herd, where everyone was welcomed by the McClaren Family and all enjoyed cold meat starters followed by beautiful Angus meat.

The herd is recognised not only for its fantastic cattle but also the progressive vision of the family where they sell shares in matron cattle for embryo collection, at the same time offering a livery option where the cattle can be kept at the farm in a manner which suits the purchaser.

Delegates were amazed at the cattle, the stunning environment and the superlative hospitality.

The Netherton sale this October may well see one or two of the delegates return to make purchases for embryo collection.

Sunday allowed a slower start to the day for delegates after what had been a tiring itinerary and we were taken to the SRUC Easter Gate Farm at Penicuik for a tour of the research farm.

George Young gave everyone a great insight into the work being done on producing productive, easy cattle where genetics were monitored through input/output measurements as well as growth rates, pelvic scores and EBVs.

The farm and college are working hard to measure and evaluate methane and carbon outputs and how they can be harvested.  The new unit which collects these gasses and uses them to produce electricity and greenhouse heating was fascinating and cutting edge, having won a grant to investigate this climate saving science.  Rumen behaviour is being monitored and indications at this point suggest that significant improvements in carbon saving can be made through genetic selection rather than just breed choice.

This short mission would not have been the huge success that it proved to be had it not been for the input and support from Robert Gilchrist AA Society, Paul Sneyd, Herford Cattle Society, Meruyert Kairbekova The British Embassy Astana and UKTAG through its support from the AHDB.

Invitations to Kazakhstan in July have already been accepted by some of the breeds here in the UK and work is underway for events in the Central Asian region in 2025.

On another note, the embassies in Central Asia are gathering delegates for The National Sheep Event in July 2024 and a tour organised by UKTAG.