Ukraine may lose a third of its dairy herd due to war
Ukraine continues to lose dairy cows as a result of hostilities in the country. According to preliminary estimates, about 50,000 milking cows have already been lost. If the active phase of war does not stop, by the end of 2022, losses may reach 150 thousand cows or a third of the dairy herd of the Ukrainian sector of industrial milk production, reported the Association of Milk Producers (AMP), an associate member of the UAC.
“At present the invaders are cynically and purposefully destroying facilities of dairy farms. In frontline and occupied territories farms barely survive, often without electricity, communications, or the possibility of fodder delivery. This is the situation in Kharkiv and Kherson regions, in many districts of Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Due to communication problems, it is difficult to estimate the exact livestock losses, especially in the private sector. It is difficult to get reliable information on what is going on in the above mentioned regions, but the losses in the industrial sector are at least 50 thousand heads, which amounts to 80 million dollars in money equivalent,” the general director of AMP Hanna Lavreniuk says.
According to AMP, at the beginning of the year as for January 1, 2022 there were 422,1 thousand cows in the industrial sector, and the productivity of animals was on average 6 860 kg per cow per year, in the best farms there were more than 11 000 kg.
The Association calculated that with productivity increasing to 8,500-9,000 kg per cow, Ukraine needs to have at least 600 head of dairy herd to meet domestic needs and use export potential.
Before the war Ukraine supplied dairy products to Middle Eastern countries exporting them through seaports. During the first two months of the war significant volumes of so-called “exchange products” were accumulated in warehouses.
“Milk powder, whey powder, butter and casein, which were planned to be shipped to Asia and Africa, main consumers of these products, have been accumulated in the warehouses. The inability to export these products negatively affects dairy companies, which in turn cannot pay dairy farms for raw milk. The shelf life of dry milk products is 3-5 months, which means that now they will start to spoil, and therefore the situation will become even more critical,” Hanna Lavreniuk says.
The losses of dairy sector are not final, because every day the Association receives reports about new targeted attacks on dairy farms. The situation is especially alarming in Kharkiv region.
“Farms are intentionally targeted by Russian forces. If earlier there were isolated cases of destroyed farms in Kharkiv region, now they are constantly shooting them. It is sad, because Kharkiv region is one of the top five regions for milk production in Ukraine. Highly productive dairy farms are concentrated there,” the general director of AMP adds.
Losses in Kharkiv region will have a significant impact on the indicators of the dairy industry. AMP predicts the following decline in livestock:
“According to the optimistic scenario, if new territories are not seized as a result of hostilities, if the cynical shelling of farms stops, the reduction of livestock in the industrial sector can range from 70 to 100 thousand milking cows. In total, by the end of the year the sector will lose 100 thousand cows. According to the pessimistic scenario, if the occupied regions are not liberated, 120-150 thousand cows may be lost by the end of the year. This is critical because it is almost a third of the pre-war industrial dairy herd in Ukraine.”
After the active phase of the war Ukraine will require technical humanitarian assistance from partner countries to quickly restore the livestock.
“It takes at least two years to raise a productive cow on a farm. Ukraine does not have this much time to recover. We need support in the form of deliveries of heifers — heifers at the age of 5-6 months, so that they quickly calve and it would be possible to restore the herd. In the first year after the active phase of the war, Ukraine will need to replace at least 50,000 heads. We will be in great need of such help. Although Ukraine is a producer of replacement heifers, its own potential is not enough,” AMP believes.
With the end of the war Ukraine will need to restore dairy farms. They should be rebuilt according to new modern trends — energy efficient according to the Green Deal. Investments in a new farm will be 7-10 thousand dollars per dairy cow, it is one of the biggest investments in cattle breeding. The payback period of such projects is up to 10 years.