ANDRIY POPOV, Lead Technologist on Milk Production, Ukrainian Agrarian Holding: on the prospects of providing dairy processors with quality milk

Providing dairy processors with sufficient volume of quality raw milk is an important issue to all dairy market operators, both producers and processors of milk.

In  recent years in dairy farming there has been a persistent trend of increasing cows’ productivity and growth in the number of livestock on farms demonstrating stable profitability of milk production. These farms are producing milk of “extra” grade quality.

Business actively invests in case it can clearly see the prospects. Then it expands and enlarges production. This trend is clearly visible in economically developed countries, where the number of small farms is rapidly decreasing and the number of medium and large enterprises are demonstrating the best level of management, which provides higher competitiveness, an increase in the amount of milk produced and higher profitability. I am confident that this trend will continue to develop in Ukraine, where, in my opinion, the constant growth of such enterprises is perfectly capable of providing our processing industry with sufficient volume of high quality milk for both domestic consumption and export potential development.

At present, the average output for farms called “agricultural enterprises” in Ukraine is several times lower than in any highly developed country. For example, in Israel, the average productivity of cows reaches 11.3 tons of milk per cow per year.For us, it is enough to raise the productivity to the average American level (9.1 tons per cow per year) and today’s volume of milk supply provided by agricultural enterprises for processing (2.7 – 2.8 million tons per year) will reach 4.0-4.5 million tons of milk per year .

The successful experience of a number of enterprises in Ukraine demonstrates the attainability of good results in the conditions of typical tied housing of cows in old farm complexes, with available livestock and reasonable investments (about 1500-3000 dollars per cow. This is taking into account the new milking systems, ensuring a good level of animal comfort , partial technical re-equipment of farms and renewal of forage harvesting equipment). Providing the high level of milk production management, it is possible to achieve productivity of 25-35 l per lactating cow per day within two to eight years, depending on the starting conditions. Wherever serious attention has been paid to all aspects of milk production over the long period of time, productivity growth can be reached rather quickly. In case of “everything has been neglected”, it will often take up to ten years of painstaking work. At the same time, using milk pipeline it is possible to reach extra grade milk quality in several months of persistent efforts.

I’m not even talking about new modern dairy complexes with freestall housing, milking halls, imported purebred or deeply “Goldsteinized” cattle. Just this is the future of milk production in Ukraine!

But how to make this process large-scale is already a serious topic for discussion. My opinion is that if there are positive practical examples of achieving stable high productivity for three or more years at a level of 10,000 liters or more per forage cow per year at certain leading enterprises (including those with tied housing own livestockh with no purchased animals), then this result can be achieved on any farm. Then, with the available livestock on agricultural enterprises’ dairy farms of about  500,000 dairy cows with such an average productivity, we could provide our dairies with up to 5 million tons of extra-class milk. This is a serious challenge, but it is realistic. The example of Israel is a good motivator.

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