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Loss of livestock and poultry mount as war in Ukraine continues

On April 21, the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club (UCAB), an organization that lobbies for the interests of large agricultural holdings and input suppliers, held a webinar called “UA Farming at Wartime: Livestock Farming in Focus” to discuss the current situation of the livestock industry in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Export, import issues plague Ukraine as war persists

Below are the main points of the gathering.

Before the invasion by Russia, Ukraine had 2.6 million livestock, 1.6 million of which were cows. About 98% of those cattle were dairy cows, and milk production was 8.7 million tons. Main dairy production is concentrated in Western, Northern, and Central Ukraine. Due to the war, about 15% of cattle have been lost. (Note: There are practically no beef cattle in Ukraine.)

Since more than 4 million Ukrainians have left Ukraine (other estimates show this figure to be closer to 5 million) and many people have lost their income, the lack of demand has caused a price drop of 12%. The price of beef has also dropped from 2.1 to 1.3 euros/kg.

The loss of feed in occupied territories and hostile zones has also contributed to the decrease of production. For example, some oilseed crushing plants have stopped. In addition, the war has forced some producers to change the feed ration to decrease their herds’ productivity. As a result, the profitability of the dairy business has significantly decreased.

The dairy products export market is not very big and includes mainly butter and skimmed milk powder. On the import side, Ukraine imports a large amount of cheese, mostly from the EU.

In 2021, the beef production from dairy bulls and dry cows was 288,000 tons. About 10% (27,000 tons) of that meat was exported to China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Moldova, and the Middle East. From February 24, until April 10, there was a ban on the beef exports.

The pig industry in Ukraine is distributed fairly evenly throughout the country. Before the war, there were 5.6 million pigs, and pork production was 750,000 tons. The number of pigs has now dropped by 20%. Although pork prices dropped at the beginning of the war, they have recovered (from 1.3 to 1.45 euros/kg). 

The biggest meat market in Ukraine is poultry. In 2021, poultry production was 1.6 million tons (live weight) of which 400,000 tons was exported to Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Slovakia, UAE, and Azerbaijan. That same year, there were 202 million birds, a number that has now fallen by 15%.

At the beginning of the war, there were shortages of veterinary medicines but that problem seems to have been resolved. However, animal producers and processors are experiencing a shortage of spare parts for equipment.

Due to the blockade of Ukrainian ports, exporting meat and meat products by sea is impossible. The export via EU countries is also difficult because of the EU veterinary restrictions. Even the transit of meat and meat products to the non-EU countries is not allowed. Therefore, the export of beef and pork has stopped.

Because there are problems with refrigerators (no electricity, for example) in several regions of Ukraine, many meat processors have begun shifting from deep freezing to producing canned meat that can be stored at an ambient temperature.

About the Author: Iurii Mykhailov is an agricultural journalist in Ukraine. He is a contributor to Successful Farming.

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