City, Mo. — A jumbo jet loaded with 253 Hereford cattle left Chicago O'Hare International Airport, then 48 hours and 12,000 miles later, the cattle arrived at their destination in southeastern Kazakhstan on June 22. It was an historic event; the group was the first U.S. beef cattle to be imported to Kazakhstan.
The cattle were purchased by Ataibekov Bakyt, owner of Dinara Ranch, a 700-head cattle and farming operation in Kazakhstan.
The purchase included 10 bulls from L.C. Whitehead of Rocking Chair Ranch, Ft. McKavett, Texas, and two bulls from Mark and Teresa McClintock, managers of Rocking Chair Ranch. Also bought were 126 cows and 115 calves from Imig Herefords, Lakeside, Neb., Hoffman Herefords, Leola, S.D., and Douthit Herefords, St. Francis, Kan.
During a trip to the Fort Worth Stock Show, Bakyt attended a Texas ranch tour, which inspired him to purchase U.S. Herefords to add to his herd that already included similar whitefaced cattle.
“To purchase the cattle we communicated with Mr. Gary Wilson and Mr. Oscar Kennedy, says Bakyt's son, Bakytnur. “They are both great people, and they helped us so much. We chose U.S. Herefords because, firstly, nobody before us has brought the Hereford cattle from U.S. to Central Asia and we already had similar cattle on our ranch.”
Gary Wilson of Reasons Group Inc., Ft. Worth, Texas, located the cattle and put the group together, and Oscar Kennedy of American Marketing Services Inc., Glen Allen, Va., was the main exporter.
The cattle were hauled by truck to the airport, where they were loaded into 38 crates, which were moved by a lift system onto the plane. After a 22-hour flight, the cattle were unloaded from the plane into trucks to be hauled to the ranch.
This first shipment of U.S. Herefords to Kazakhstan is expected to be the first of many to come.
“The aim of Dinara Ranch is to open the first Hereford ranch in Central Asia, and also to increase the quantity and quality of the product, to work only in one way — Hereford,” Bakytnur says.
The ranch owners say they chose Herefords to add size and muscle to their cattle to keep up with a growing demand for beef in Kazakhstan's booming economy.
Mark McClintock and Gary Wilson traveled with the cattle. McClintock served as a representative of the Winrock Foundation, an international volunteer organization.
“It was awesome,” McClintock says about the trip and the opportunity to spend time in Kazakhstan helping acclimate the cattle to their new environment. “I was so impressed with the skill and knowledge of the men who took care of the cattle, especially with the limited facilities they have available to them at this time,” he adds.