As a company that routinely sells feeder and slaughter cattle into the United States, Cantriex Livestock International Inc. is accustomed to shipping livestock great distances.
But the journey it sent 175 Angus cattle on earlier this month was exceptional, even for the Ponoka company.
The 165 heifers and 10 bulls were trucked 30 hours to Chicago, Ill., and then after a 24-hour quarantine period spent 14 hours flying to Kranoyarsk in central Russia.
Working with Weavercroft International of Dorchester, Ont., and Douglas J. Henderson and Associates of Lacombe, Cantriex orchestrated the deal to send the animals half a world away. There, it’s expected they’ll help form the foundation for a new Russian herd.
“They want to build a base of quality, so they’re using primarily registered pedigreed seed stock,” said David Saretsky, who operates Cantriex with his father Tony and mother Marilyn.
The Russian buyer, which was a private farm, wanted Angus stock, said Saretsky. Canada’s reputation for quality genetics and the fact its climate is similar to Russia’s helped seal the deal.
An inspection group arrived in January, and visited some of the 22 Alberta and Saskatchewan farms the cattle were sourced from.
“I was surprised with the knowledge that they had, and I was even more surprised with their hunger for more knowledge,” said Saretsky, recalling how the visitors peppered their hosts with questions about Canadian production techniques.
The animals spent approximately 30 days in quarantine, during which time they were carefully examined by a Russian veterinarian team.
Finally, they were sealed into five cattle liners for the drive to Chicago. At O’Hare International Airport, they were placed into crates and loaded onto a Russian Boeing 747.
“They went right over the North Pole,” said Saretsky, adding that the cattle arrived in good condition and with some media fanfare.
Cantriex is already negotiating more international deals, and Saretsky is optimistic some will involve Russian buyers.
“The cattle that we sent over there probably gives us the best sales pitch that we could possible get. It was a superb set of heifers that we sent and an absolutely outstanding set of bulls.”
“I’m very confident that these cattle will be successful over there.