Sanna Turru is an Aberdeen-Angus breeder based in Estonia where she runs Lendermäe Aberdeen-Angus herd and also works as a cattle specialist for the Valtu Aberdeen-Angus herd. Prior to hosting the European Angus Forum in June of 2018, we spoke to Sanna to find out a bit more about the breed in Estonia.
How and when did the Aberdeen-Angus breed first arrive in Estonia?
The first Aberdeen-Angus bulls to arrive in Estonia date back to 1995, when bulls were imported here from Denmark. With regard to heifers, 21 were imported from Finland in 2001.
How did you personally get into the world of cattle breeding?
I was breeding Estonian heavy draft horses for 10 years, but got a little tired of working with horses and for personal reasons decided to call it quits. The particular set up of our farm meant that moving towards working with beef cattle was the best option. I did some research and in 2011 I realized that our land is suitable for extensive breeds, and I picked Aberdeen-Angus due to its popularity that I read about. I knew that with our amount of land, the only way to manage the beef farm is to do breeding. Also, for me, it is important that we manage the farm in a cost-effective way, and Aberdeen-Angus is a good breed to keep it that way.
In 2014 I started to work as a beef cattle consultant for Valtu Talu company. It is a small size crop-farm whose shareholders are mostly from Scotland. Beside our breeding goals, working with the Scots in particular has helped me in terms of benchmarking.
In 2016, Estonia joined the Nordic Classification System led by Denmark, and I started as one of the classifiers, after I had studied the systems and profession for two years.
Why do people in Estonia love working with Aberdeen-Angus animals? What traits about the breed do you like the most?
Aberdeen-Angus is very easy beef breed to work with – easy calving, lots of milk and the cows have very good maternal traits. Aberdeen-Angus have a great temperament, and for me the most important factor, they can be managed in a cost-effective manner. We have a lot of coast-land and grasslands that are suitable mostly for extensive breeds, so Aberdeen-Angus suits us perfectly.
Another factor I like is that, even in that one breed, you can pick the type of animal you like. For example, a smaller type that can be fed only by forage to get good results, and also a bigger type that needs better land and feed quality. It’s still the same breed, just a matter of size.
What are you most looking forward to about the European Angus Forum in Estonia in 2018?
Being part of the organizing committee, I can see that people are working hard to pick the very best of our breeding and culture to fit it into those five days. Visitors to the Forum can expect a great overview of the country of Estonia, because they will be travelling around a lot and will get the chance to visit our biggest island, Saaremaa. Also, the tour will finish in Tallinn, where everyone can take some time to enjoy the beauty of Oldtown. We are very excited to host the event and welcome all of our Aberdeen-Angus friends and fans from all over the world!
What are your thoughts on the future for the Aberdeen-Angus breed?
When breeding I always try to uphold and maintain the values that the breed has. There are some trends in Aberdeen-Angus breeding that can help breeders stay competitive with other bigger breeds. I think that focusing to keep Aberdeen-Angus as an extensive breed is the right way forward. There is a lot of wasted grassland in some countries which can be used to graze, including here in Estonia. One day, I’d like to see these filled with Aberdeen-Angus.