Estonian cows among Europe's best milk producers

Holstein/Frisian dairy cows.
Holstein/Frisian dairy cows. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The average amount of milk produced annually by Estonian cows has increased for the last 22 years on the trot. With last year's volumes even eclipsing those of Denmark, when it comes to milk production, some say that Estonian cows are among the best in Europe right now.

According to data from the Estonian Center for Control of Farm Animal Productivity (EPJ), Estonian cows produced an average of 10,628 kilograms (10, 268 liters) of milk each in 2022, an increase of 144 kilograms (139 liters) per cow when compared to 2021.

"Certainly, it comes down to good work by the dairy farmers," said EPJ chief Kaino Ilves.

"I also think, that the level of feeding and breeding in Estonia is very high. In fact, there is a lot of investment that goes into farms in Estonia in order to achieve this amount of milk production. They are extremely efficient," Ilves said.

"It is also great to see that we have surpassed the milk production levels of Danish farmers for the first time. I dare say that, based on last year's results, we are probably the best country in Europe right now when it comes to milk production," he added.

Laboratory analyses have also shown, that not only is the milk produced on Estonian farms flowing in high volumes, but its quality is also top rate.

"The quality of our milk is very good. When I mentioned Danish milk production, in terms of quality, we are right up there with Denmark," Ilves continued.

"We keep a measure of the somatic cell count, which is an indicator of the health and welfare of the herd in general. It is good, because we have invested a lot in farms and milking equipment. The general standard of hygiene on (Estonian) farms is good, and the cows are happy," Ilves explained.

Looking at the results by county, cows in Põlva and Järva counties produced the most milk in Estonia last year. Põlva County cows contributed 11,317 kilograms of raw milk to the national total for instance.

According to Indrek Nõmm, member of the management board of the EPJ in Peri, Põlva County, a number of factors have combined to ensure Estonia's cows have been able to produce such high volumes of milk.

"A lot of this is the result of years of knowledge-based work. Last year was a good year, because it was also a good year for plant production," Nõmm said

"Fields have to produce quality silage. If a field yields really high quality cereals, then the animals will produce a lot of milk," he added.

On January 9, Kreta, a six-year-old based in Saaremaa, produced 97.6 kilograms (approximately 94.7 liters) of milk, smashing her own Estonian national record for the amount yielded by an indivudual cow in one day.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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