If we hadn’t moved, the goats would have died from hunger

Farmer Serhii Svyrydenko evacuated 150 goats from his farm in the Donetsk region. Currently, he has set up in the village of Didychi, the Volyn region, and works to restore the cheese production.

Before starting a farm, Serhii Svyrydenko lived in Donetsk and was engaged in trade. In the summer 2014, together with his family he left for the country house in the village of Ivanopillia. For two weeks, as they sought, but in reality had not returned to the temporarily occupied Donetsk since that.

Svyrydenko went to serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine for a year and a half. And after returning home, he decided to breed goats. The farm produced craft meat delicacies and cheeses, and the business was going well until February 2022.

Serhii Svyrydenko in Ivanopillia in 2019.
Photo: Ukrainska Pravda

After Russia’s full-scale invasion, it became dangerous to work there. And there were fewer clients: people were leaving the neighboring towns and villages and the shops were closing. Serhii even had troubles promoting his products online because of the location.

In spring, shelling reached Ivanopillia. Soon, there was no gas and water supply, and keeping the livestock became increasingly difficult.

“I had no choice: either the goats will die of hunger in Ivanopillia, or we will move and I will be able to find fodder for them. That is why I have been traveling around Ukraine since July, looking for places to move,” Serhii Svyrydenko told in an interview to Ukrainska Pravda.

After the program about his farm was broadcasted on TV, an entrepreneur Ivan Bud from the Volyn region invited Svyrydenko to his old farm. Serhii hired a cattle truck to transport the equipment, tractor, machinery, and 150 goats across the country. In addition, two employees of the farm moved with it.

Photo: Suspilne Lutsk

According to Serhii, the goats have already settled in the new place. However, it took them some time to get used to a different climate and grass: many animals fell ill, and six died. 

Serhii plans to resume the production of craft cheeses from goat milk. He brought some cheese with him from the Donetsk region, and it is in the process of aging. The production of meat delicacies was already launched only on October 21. Serhii has already received a grant from the Danish Council to purchase needed equipment. He is also waiting for the Veterans’ Fund’s decision regarding buying a car that can be used to deliver goods to shops.

To get enough fodder to feed his goats through the winter, Serhii had to announce the fundraising. According to the farmer, he used about 30 tons of hay to feed animals in the winter season in the Donetsk region. “When it snows, or the wind is strong, we can’t graze goats, so we need hay, and we don’t have enough of it. For our goats to survive the winter, they need plenty of hay,” explains the farmer to Suspilne.

Due to the active hostilities in the eastern part of Ukraine, Serhii Svyrydenko currently does not plan to return to the Donetsk region, but wants to increase the number of goats on his new farm in the Volyn region.

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