Trusting to be different

Horvat Farm from Žižki has been one of the pioneers in the intensive testing of Polycis, the new 14,000-litre tank for liquid manure. Today, the primary business of the farm is rearing Red Angus beef cattle.

July 01, 2019

They started almost 20 years ago and have since acquired major reputation among customers. They are also utilising a 100-hectare farmland. They ensure balanced exploitation by fertilising mainly with organic fertilisers.

The first and largest in Slovenia
Horvat family farm is located in a small village of Žižki and has been actively engaged in farming for almost 40 years. Their beginnings span back to 1981 when the head farmer, Zvonko Horvat, started farming business together with his wife. The year 2000 was their turning point, when they started to rear Red Angus beef cattle. Zvonko Horvat clearly remembers the beginnings, when he turned his passion into business. “We wanted something new, different and better. At the time, this breed was unknown in the wider region and information less accessible than today. Since the beginnings, we were the first in Slovenia to believe and invest into Red Angus. We progressed steadily until pedigree rearing has become a part of our life.” In 2015, the farm was taken over by the son, Gašper, who has been involved in working and decision-making at the farm since he was a child. The young transferee is continuing the success story, proudly saying: “Today, we are the largest rearers of Red Angus beef cattle in Slovenia, reaping the fruits of our hard work.”

Indisputable advantages of the breed
The main and basic business of the farm is rearing Red Angus beef cattle, which derives from Scotland, while the first embryo acquired by the Horvat family came from Alberta in Canada. “Angus beef cattle is rather calm and good-natured, and doesn't need much human intervention,” says Gašper, adding that the cattle are of medium size and without horns. He highlights easy and trouble-free calving as a major advantage. Father Zvonko adds: “These are notably grazing animals with a long life-span; therefore, they are very healthy and hardy. They are also well adapted to major temperature fluctuations.” All the advantages have contributed to making a decision to start rearing this breed. There are almost 200 animals in their herd, of which 70 pedigree cows with calves scattered over the neighbouring pastures. They have full access to fresh grass and, of course, to a sheltered area. The rest of the cattle, intended for fattening up to 800 kg, is kept in stables at the farm.

Only the best for the best
For Horvat family, the decision to rear Angus beef cattle has proven to be the right one, as at the moment the Angus beef demand exceeds the supply. Angus beef is well known for its marbling and falls into the balanced diet category. This type of beef is favoured among gourmands; therefore, it is hardly surprising that the farm's end customers are exclusively the best and selected Slovenian restaurants. “We sell beef of very high quality, therefore there are no problems with sales,” says Gašper. “End customers’ demand is so high that, unfortunately, we have to turn some of them down,” adds Zvonko. That's why they will keep expanding the herd in the long term. By the end of this year they will invest in their own slaughterhouse and curing plant in line with the needs of their customers. “The investment is interesting from the income point of view and will certainly bring added value and an upgrade to the farm,” says Zvonko.

They trust into organic fertilisers
In addition to healthy cattle rearing, they are farming 55 hectares of fields and 45 hectares of meadows or pastures. They produce all bulky fodder by themselves, so the quality is indisputable. Their main crops are corn, cereals, field pea and mixture of grass and clover. They use mainly organic fertilisers on cultivated areas, fertilising either with liquid manure or their own solid manure. “Just before sowing we always use liquid manure as an additional preventive fertilisation, and we use solid manure for three-year rotation cropping. We use mineral fertiliser only in case of shortage of organic fertilisers,” says Gašper, adding that such a balanced exploitation has a positive effect to the soil quality and fertility as well as growing conditions.

Investing into machinery upgrades
They use Superfex 1200 solid manure spreader, so they are familiar with Farmtech products. “After 5 years of intensive use the spreader remains highly effective and in perfect condition,” says Gašper, who uses the farm machinery most often. However, due to the increasing quantity of liquid manure they are looking for a suitable machine for professional liquid manure spreading. That's why they performed an intensive test of the new 14,000-litre Polycis 1400 tank equipped with a 15-metre spreader. “Uniform and controlled spreading of liquid manure by means of a low discharge system has proven to be the main suitable solution for us,” says Gašper, especially due to the fact that a great share of their land is located near to the village, therefore the impact on the environment and the smell are reduced. However, he would like to see an option of automatic slot closing, which would make the process even easier. He is also excited about other practical and useful solutions, such as simple control from the cabin, automatic and fast refilling, low-pressure tyres ensuring lower pressure and less compacting of soil etc. “We wish to further simplify and optimise the processes, therefore additional investments into new machinery, including a tank, will be necessary,” say both at the same time before disappearing into the farmland.