Russia looks to buy genetics to improve its flocks

A large international presence was seen at the Sheep Event 2008, with more than 20 overseas guests from as far as Chile and Russia.

Speaking about the Russian sheep industry, Alexander Koulikov, director and owner of one of the largest farms in that country, told Farmers Weekly the quality of Russia’s 19m sheep was poor and many were traditional wool breeds.

“Traditionally, wool was the major income for Russian sheep farmers using the fine-wool, short-tailed breeds. However, now wool is no longer profitable and the nation needs feeding, we need to develop a meat breed of sheep,” he said.

Russia in the past had had a national problem of agricultural development, with government support only going to pedigree animals. However, a new programme set up by the government was putting £10.5m into various agricultural projects.

Mr Koulikov, who has only been farming for the past four years and was previously in the sugar trade, has 1800 sheep. “We want to improve our breeding and get the right carcass by introducing some Suffolk, Texel and Charollais into the flock. However, at the moment we need a certificate from the Russian Agricultural Vet Service to use these breeds.”

When Mr Koulikov does get permission to use these breeds, he plans to buy 50 animals of the three main terminal sire breeds. He plans to then cross some and also keep pedigree flocks.

The Russian sheep industry needed to develop a more meat-breed sheep by using terminal sires, reckoned Alexander Koulikov.

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