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Russia, Belarus: Heatwave jeopardises dairy cow production

Market players in Russia and Belarus warned that the continuing heatwave in both countries is likely to harm dairy companies, pushing on productivity.

A heatwave swept most parts of European Russia since June, driving temperatures in Moscow and nearest regions towards record highs. The capital’s daytime temperatures range at 30-35 degrees Celsius, breaking record highs, some of which stood since 1936. The weather phenomenon has already impacted the country’s milk industry, as reports coming from different regions indicate that thousands of animals suffer from heat stress.

“So far, the milk production dynamic in Russia is positive: we see an increase in milk production in the first half of the year, but the growth pace lags behind last year’s level, to some extent due to the abnormal heatwave in several regions, where high temperatures caused a decline in cattle productivity,” said Artem Belov, general director of the Russian national union of dairy producers Soyuzmoloko.

Photo: Mark Pasveer
Photo: Mark Pasveer

Impact on dairy cows

Belov explained that hot and mostly dry weather with temperatures standing above 30 degrees Celsius for several days in a row seriously affects animals, even those at the high-technological farms with modern cooling systems. As soon as the temperature returns to normal, milk yield is restored, but the summer heat is expected to affect this year’s Russian production figures.

“I do not exclude that the growth rate may be slightly lower than last year. But I am almost sure that the overall dynamics will be positive,” Belov said.

First half of 2021

In the first half of 2021, Russia produced 32.2 million tonnes of milk, 2.7% up compared to the same period of the previous year, the Russian state statistical service Rosstat estimated. The picture is believed to be similar in Belarus, where most regions also experienced record-breaking air temperatures during the past few months.

Measures

All measures are being taken in Belarusian farms to prevent a drop in milk production, the Belarus Ministry of Agriculture and Food told to the Russian state news outlet Sputnik.

The Ministry stated it was too early to talk about how the heat affected the milk industry’s productivity this summer. Some results could be drawn only in the second half of the year.

In the first half of 2021, Belarus produced 3.8 million tonnes of milk – 1.8% more than in the same period last year, the Belarus government estimated. Production of cheese, butter, and all other dairy products also went slightly up.