The farmer Andrei Buschan starts his morning with listening to classical music. 60 000 of the world’s most sensitive ears are following every piece of Bach’s fugues and Tchaikovsky’s suites sounding on his farm. Buschan turns on the instrumental hits for his rabbit stock. The soothing sounds help the animals keep calm, breed faster and be healthy.
Good music is just one of Buschan’s fine business adjustments. In five years, the entrepreneur has built the country’s largest rabbit breeding company on the site of the bankrupt rabbit farm in village Ivanki, Cherkassy region. Now his company with the comprehensible name “Krolikoff” sells about 40 tons of rabbit meat monthly that makes up one fifth of the national market amount. Over the past two years, the revenue of the company employing about 120 people increased in 1.5 times up to UAH 26.6 million.
Five years ago Buschan, a former player of the NHL hockey club San Jose Sharks (based in San Jose, California, the USA), knew nothing about rabbits. Having retired and returned to Ukraine, he went into a close to his interests business – building sports facilities. San Jose Sharks ex-forward was offered to deal with the rabbits breeding by his fellows – bankers from Express Bank. Previously, the bank had financed the rabbit farm “Anmaks”, but the company failed to repay the debt in due time and it passed into the ownership of the bank. The bankers were looking for someone who could be in charge of the company, bring it into profit and repay the creditors their money. Buschan decided to put his hands on animal breeding.
The former hockey player started the enterprise revival with the basics – with a new team. In order not to start with a mistake, he decided to settle his farm with only meat breed rabbits. Suitable specimens were found in the French nursery Eurolap, which has been specializing in breeding Hyplus breed for half a century. Express Bank acted as a creditor to help purchase livestock. $2 million loan was enough not only to purchase 6000 purebred rabbits, but also to repay wage arrears to “Anmaks” workers. The rest of the loan was used for the rabbit farm extension.
The investment in imported rabbits fully paid off. While the Ukrainian-bred animals needed at least four months to grow up to shop-standard size, the French breed rabbits gained the necessary weight in 12 weeks. In 2011, the company sold about 5 tons of rabbit meat and the revenue of previously unprofitable company was UAH 7.4 million. “The rabbits of this breed grow to the market weight gaining about 30 grams per day,” – says Alexander Ponomarenko from the company “Mister Kroll”.
The production volumes were increasing, but to get to supermarkets shelves, it was necessary to make the supplies regular. It was not an easy goal to achieve as most of operations on the farm: feeding, slaughtering and butchering were carried out manually. The volume of production depended on the efficiency of every enterprise employee. Almost everything that had been earned, Buschan invested in the purchase of the Spanish automatic complexes for rabbit farms. So, the computer controls every previously manual operation. Productivity more than doubled allowing businessman to plan the future production volume. The rabbit meat from Ivanki, Cherkassy region appeared on the shelves of country’s largest retail store chains “Furshet”, “Megamarket” and “Velyka Kyshenya”.
The businessman makes a lot selling his “long-eared” stock. In addition to the rabbit meat and animals’ entrails that supermarkets buy from him, the entrepreneur sells the animals’ fur, ears, tongues, heads, legs and even brains. The fur is sold to be processed to China, where it is added to fabric and outerwear is made. The skin is often used as a casein glue ingredient, and the ears, heads and lungs are used to manufacture dog food. The rabbit liver and heart are considered to be some of the most expensive commodity items which are sold for about UAH 100 per kilo. The fat is even more expensive. Perfume companies purchase it for UAH 120 per kilo. The rabbit manure is among the income items. Farmers regard it as an effective fertilizer, which is comparable to the manure of cows, pigs and horses. An adult rabbit gives up to 100 kg of the organic manure per year. The price for 1 kg is about UAH 10.
In 2012 the livestock grew to 20,000 rabbits and the revenue nearly doubled reaching UAH 16.9 million. In 2013 the company launched its own slaughtering shop with a capacity of 1000 units per hour. This has made “Krolikoff” the only Ukrainian rabbit farm with a complete production cycle. The shop work is monitored by “Halal” Certification Authority experts. “They are now a monopoly on the market, – says Alex Baran, the director of the farm” Rabbit Life” which also breeds rabbits, about Buschan’s company. – Only “Krolikoff” has a slaughtering shop of such high level”.
The economic crisis in 2014 brought down the unstable Ukrainian animal breeding industry. The foreign currency rates affected the price for the combined feed, which many Ukrainian rabbit breeders buy from importers. However, “Krolikoff” was ready for such circumstances. Last year Buschan opened his own combined feed factory. Owing to this decision, now the company saves UAH 1.5 million per month.
Now the main task of the company is to compensate sales losses due to Crimea annexation and the hostilities in Donbass. Buschan plans to maximize sales on the existing markets. “Krolikoff” rabbit meat advertisements can be seen in Ukrainian children’s clinics and at master-classes given by famous Canadian Chef Hector Jimenez-Bravo. He is known in Ukraine as a host of the cooking TV-show “Master Chef”. “The product’s quality and value will always be highly appreciated”, says General Director of “Krolikoff” Valeriy Ogorodnik.
Text: Katerina Shumilo, Maxim BirovashПідписуйся на наш Telegram. Стеж за новинами у зручному форматі!