An American Cowboy Aims to Help Russia's Beef Herd
American cowboys are helping to rebuild Russia's beef cattle industry. Beef production in Russia collapsed after the break-up of the Soviet Union. The reasons: Cattle breeding and herd management programs fell apart, and people ate most of Russia's beef cows. Today, the beef herd in Russia is less than one percent the size of the American herd. Yet cowboy Darrell Stevenson says Russia has excellent resources.
DARRELL STEVENSON: "Tremendous opportunity in this country in terms of the vast resources. Tremendous amount of available ground, whether it's tilled or not."
The Black Angus cows seen here were imported last year from Montana. Recently, the cows had their first calves in Russia.
DARRELL STEVENSON: "We're helping establish a local beef heard, a regional beef herd, and eventually a national beef herd. And with that comes the sidelines of educating a labor force."
Viktor Korovkin grew up near this farm in Shestakova. He saw outsiders come in and take apart the village's old collective farm. At first, Korovkin worked as a guard at the ranch. Now, he is a supervisor. He says the ranch uses modern technology. Some of it is imported, he adds.
Ekaterina Zimina cares for animals on the ranch. She says Russians have little experience working with beef cattle.
EKATERINA ZIMINA: "Because it's really, really hard to find good enough people in Russia that can work with beef cattle because Russia is world-known as dairy country. We have lots of dairy herds, dairy cows, but managing dairy and beef cows is (a) totally different thing."
More and more investors are traveling to this area, south of Moscow, to see the ranch. Land here does not cost very much, compared to many parts of the United States.
EKATERINA ZIMINA: "We together can show these people that this is not something from the movie: that cowboys really exist and it's (a) really hard job, and that's possible to do, even in Russia."
And if all goes as planned, people soon will be eating meat from Black Angus raised on this ranch in southern Russia. I'm Steve Ember.