2011 WORLD ANGUS SECRETARIAT TO ARGENTINA OCTOBER 8TH - 15TH
The Secreatriat meeting was held in the Capital Buenos Aires and the ranch visits were centred in Tandil, a ‘country city’ some 6 hours drive south of Buenos Aires.
2011 is the 3rd World Angus Secretariat that they have held since the first in 1975 and their ability to hold such an event was very evident when we arrived for the Secreatriat on the 7th October.
The Agrentinans pulled out all the stops and our itinerary was brilliant: 5 ranch tours, The First National Angus Show in Tandil, a visit to the Liniers Cattle Market or the packing plant Frigorifico Rioplatense, an open championship match in their polo championship at the Tortugus Country Club, a city tour of Buenos Aires and their famous cemetery and of course a chance to travel through the countryside and get a bird eye view of their vast country.
Everything that you do in a foreign country is always intriguing because it is so interesting to see how other people go about carrying out many of the same tasks that we perform at home – a great opportunity to learn different and sometimes better ways to do these things.
Argentina is home to 45 million people (10m in Buenos Aires and associated suburbs) and 48m beef cattle with more than 50% of these cattle being Angus or Angus X. Their Angus cattle are quite similar to ours here in NZ, early maturing with a high % slaughtered inside 2 years of age.
Cattle in Argentina though are confined to their “Pampas” country which makes up a very large % of the total farmed area. Their better country is referred as their “Agriculture” country or higher fertile country and is where they grow their vast variety of crops – barley, wheat, soyabean, sunflower, corn, oats and conolla along with many other specialist crops and high performing grasses that are harvested to sileage, baleage and hay.
Obviously and for good reason they had selected 5 of their better properties in reasonably close proximity to each other and to Buenos Aires (2 – 6 hours drive!!) for us to visit; properties that had the numbers and the quality of cattle necessary when you are hosting such an event. We weren’t to be disappointed in the quality or condition of all the classes of stock presented, they were of a very high standard.
We started in the “Pampas”, a vast grassland ‘sea’ that is home to their millions of cattle, an area of millions of acres of flat, open, often windswept (I suspect) less fertile land than their highly productive “agriculture” land.
The five ranches we visited were all running a traditional mix by our standards – cows and calves, replacement females, bulls and some mobs of steers and finishing stock.
Embryo work and semen sales are extensive parts of their business with the expanding market opportunities they have with new breeders at home and those in Brazil, Uruguay, Columbia, Paraquay and some other South American countries.
Interestingly though a greater % of the cows are what they call “pure controlled dams” or in our terminology PRAC dams, with a comparatively smaller number of “registered dams” with the balance being “commercial dams”.
It appeared that the very best “registered dams” were the ‘donor females’ they collected from to supply the lucrative embryo markets they had developed.
The best of the “pure controlled” bull progeny made up a good percentage of the sale bulls they offered to the commercial beef farmers along with the “registered” ones.
The use of horses in all of their cattle work on the ranches (saw only one 4-wheeler motor bike!!) and in the cattle market in Buenos Aires was noticeable and maybe because of this the cattle were very quiet and responded to the horses very quickly when asked, with no apparent stress or panic. Cattle trucks, by and large, are single deck, articulated and only have two pens.
It was very impressive to see large mobs of 700 and 800 yearling heifers in good condition, 300 + cows with calves at foot and 16 month bulls of 150+ held up to the fence for us to look at by a team of very impressive horsemen, or “Gouchos” as they are called in Argentina. It became the norm to see this on every property and every time it looked just as fantastic!! The display of cattle on every property was very impressive, up to 2000 head on show at two of the properties, it was simply outstanding!
The weather played its part too, with fine but sometime cool temperatures that gave perfect conditions underfoot for us to be able to get around easily and see the various groups of cattle that were featured.
We were looked after superbly for the entire time we were in Argentina, be it in Buenos Aires or out on the ranches, and the hospitality along with everything else they did for us was simply 1st class. At every stop, whether at the cattle show, the polo match or the ranches, we dined on the lawn in marquees and were served on every occasion varying cuts of their tasty and tender Argentine Angus beef, their very lovely Argentinian wines (the ‘Malbec’ being a particular favourite) and entertained by guitarists, bands or Tango dancers at every venue.
For five days we were looked after like this until the final day in Tandil, when we spent the morning and early afternoon at the First National Angus Show (one of the many shows they attend during the season before the prestige Palermo Show – the showcase show of the season) and our final lunch and a wind up address from Jerry Taylor, Dorian Garrick and Horacio Guitou - our earlier speakers at the Secretariat meeting, on genetics.
Following the Prize-giving everybody departed to their hotels to prepare for the final closure dinner, genetic sale and presentations.
It was a beautiful meal for the final time together, during which an auction of Argentinian genetics was held and gifts from many of the countries in attendance were made to the President of Argentina, in gratitude of the friendship generated and the hospitality given to everybody present at this occasion.
The President followed by presenting every country with 6 printed sketched of Argentinian Angus cattle - a fitting gesture to finish a wonderful visit to Angus Argentina and their wonderful country and a final chance to say the many farewells to the various people met on this thoroughly enjoyable visit.
The next day the 3 buses took us all back to Buenos Aires (a 6 hour trip!), and when we arrived at our hotels it so abruptly was all over, the end of the 2011 secretariat meeting.
It only remained for everybody to go their separate ways until they could meet again in 2013 in New Zealand.
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