After the Perevara dairy farm in Jõgeva County announced 75 lay-offs, closing three out of its four farms, more companies are planning to go down the same route, and herd numbers could be decreased by as much as 8 percent, or 8,000 animals, this year.
Delfi reported that 25 dairy farms are planning to decrease milk production or stop it entirely. That would currently amount to about 3,500 fewer dairy cattle, but that figure could grow to 8,000 by the end of the year, according to the Animal Breeders Association.
“We are now planning to reorganize the company's direction, to grow wheat on 4,000 hectares and continue with a small dairy herd. I would not rule out increasing the herd again if the situation improves,” Alo Teder, the head of Perevara, said. He hopes to sell the excess animals to Latvia, Poland or Russia.
Tanel Bulitko, the head of the breeders association, said layoffs are a catastrophe in rural areas, adding that farmers have also started to cut back on the quality of the animal feed, decreasing the health of the herds. He said those farms which have made no significant investments will be the first to close, as they have the least to loose.
Last year 800,000 tons of milk was produced in Estonia, 4 percent more than in the previous year. Herd numbers decreased slightly, but productivity per cow increased.
Editor: J.M. Laats