Everyone must carve their own path
Among the larger specialised farms
On the outskirts of Murska Sobota, in Bakovci, Danilo Meolic and his family run a modern farm that specialises in pig farming and agriculture. It is one of the larger and more successful farms in the wider region. The farm has a breeding circle ranging from breeding sows to piglets and fattening pigs as well as its own breeding center for breeding sows. They always have between 1100 and 1200 pigs in the stable. In addition, they cultivate 220 hectares of arable land. They mainly produce corn, wheat, barley and rapeseed. "The majority of the crops, especially corn and barley, is used at our farm as pig fodder, while the remaining wheat is sold to the nearby Mlinopek bakery, and oilseed rape is processed for oil," says Danilo Meolic.
Resourcefulness is crucial
He is well aware that they must be flexible, caring, cost-conscious and able to keep up with agricultural trends. "The purchase prices of pigs are certainly not at the level we would like, so their production is not the most profitable. Over the recent years, the trend in the industry has been negative and unstable compared to cattle farming and poultry farming, although the dietary habits of Slovenes favour the consumption of pork. At the same time, fodder, which accounts for about half of the cost of pig rearing, is getting more expensive with each passing year," explains Danilo, adding that in the process of selling pork, every pig farmer is left to his own devices. The Meolic family sells all pigs for slaughter to the Celjske mesnine meat company which is a regular customer and a fair business partner.
Lively harvest period
During the harvest period, the entire family grows even closer and everyone is more actively engaged in work. Their machine fleet only features premium brands, including Farmtech - they have a brand new three-axle DDK 2400 trailer, a pair of two-axle ZDK 1800 trailers and a slightly older DP 800 trailer. During the season, all trailers are in operation and they have not had any negative experiences with their use so far. "Trailers are often overloaded yet robust, durable and reliable enough to do their job with excellence. And that is crucially important during the hectic harvest period," explains Danilo. They still see more room for trailer improvements. "It should be easier and simpler to open the sideboards, and in the future we may even consider the option of opening it hydraulically directly from the tractor. We would also like to have easier or automatic trailer cover for even greater efficiency," adds Timotej, who is already following in the footsteps of father Danilo.
Thoughtful, planned and gradual
Adding state-of-the-art, high-tech farm machinery and upgrades to an existing machinery fleet is a major expense for the Meolic family; however, they are well aware that investments are necessary if they are to simplify farm work and be competitive in the industry. They also depend on the abundance of the harvest and the market price of pigs. Since there are no direct subsidies for pig farmers, they try to use it to modernise the machinery, but they only manage to subsidise a portion of the costs. Nevertheless, investments are undertaken in a thoughtful, carefully planned and gradual manner. In the near future, they intend to update the slurry tank. "The existing tank is still good enough, but I'm interested to try one of the new Farmtech low discharge tanks," says Danilo, a long-time partner and user who knows the Farmtech products well.
A glimpse into the future
For the Meolic family, farming is a way of life. It is both work and pleasure as well as a great responsibility and obligation. They are environmentally conscious as they have a solar power plant on the farm. They are happy with their current situation. "We have no problems with sales, but the low sales prices compared to the high production costs remain an issue. However, we do not want to complain too much. We are honest in our operation, but most importantly, we do what makes us happy," proclaims Danilo proudly, adding that there is no single common model for farm development and success. "Every farm has to carve its own path. And we have managed to do just that," he adds. The future of pig farming and the recipe for growth is symbolised in the label "Selected Quality - Slovenia". "This label is a guarantee informing the consumer that a certain product with special characteristics is regularly controlled and fully produced and processed in Slovenia," concludes Danilo.