140 high productive dairy cows in the middle of nowhere in Mongolia: it seems impossible. However, 70 kilometres north of the capital Ulaanbaatar a farmer started with 10 cows, producing 2.800 litres/cow/year and 50 hectares in 1992. After working on a high-tech government farm for 10 years during the ’80s and ’90s, the Socialist time ended in Mongolia and funds for this farm as well. So he decided to start his own farm.
At this moment 100 cows are lactating and 40 cows are dry. They produce on average 4.200 litres of milk with some of them producing around 9.000 litres a year. The fat content is on average 3,8% and protein content 3,43%. The herd is a mixture of Holstein-Friesians, Brown Swiss, Simmentaler and Mongolian breeds. Heifers are inseminated at 18-24 months of age, have an average calving interval of 365 days (60 days dry) and stay on the farm for 5 lactations in general. After that, they are sold for their meat to the local market (even the HF’s!).
The feed for the cows is produced on the 150 hectares around the farm. Hay and grass silage are derived from the pastures. As the growing season is starting in the end of May and the cold season starts in the end of September, the growing season is short. Grains and maize are grown, which are harvested still unripened. Beer leftovers (‘bierborstel’) are bought from the capital Ulaanbaatar beer factories to add more protein to the diet and a mineral bolus is used to add sufficient minerals to the diet. Leftovers of vegetables are fed and some concentrates are bought, however, most of the feedstuffs are grown on the own land.
The milk is sold to the biggest national milk processing company ‘Suu’ and smaller shops in the local area. Milking is done with two movable milk machine which can milk two cows each per time. After the small tanks on the milk machine are filled up, the milk is put in the milk tank that is located outside of the stable. The national milk company collects the milk when the milk tank is filled (note: the milk never gets off in the summer and never gets frozen in the winter, despite the extreme temperatures in Mongolia!). Soon, the farmer will start his own processing factory in the capital as he will get a better price for the milk if it is processed and he likes to add value to his own products. Yoghurt, cheese, ‘tarag’ and pasturized milk will be produced in the factory. According to the farmer, still 50 million litres of milk (products) are imported in Mongolia, so the demand for it is high, especially in the capital Ulaanbaatar.
At this moment a new cubicle stable is being constructed with space for 200 dairy cows. A milking machine is bought (2x 8 rows of milking equipment), which will decrease the milking time tremendously. The cows will be held in 4 groups, according to the production level of the cow. Materials for the stable are bought from China and other countries as there are few other farmers in Mongolia use it. The farmer is thinking about creating a biogas installation so he can provide energy to the whole local village. At this moment already 20 people have a job at his farm, which increases during the summer.
This farmer is unique in Mongolia and shows that it is possible to farm in a sustainable and modern way. He is awarded the price of ‘best farmer of Mongolia’ bij the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Most of the knowledge he gets from abroad, by visiting e.g. Japan and soon he will come to The Netherlands. If you recognize him, make sure you know some Mongolian words, so you can be invited to his farm 🙂