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Grazing livestock in Baltic countries and development paths of dairy farmers in Lithuania

The main objective of this chapter is to outline the situation of grazing livestock in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and the changes that followed accession to the European Union. A secondary objective is to indicate development paths and potential of Lithuanian farmers specialising in milk production. The share of milk production in gross agricultural output (GAO) in the Baltic states varied in the period 2007-2011 from 16 to 29% of GAO, while the shares of beef, and sheep and goats production were 4-6% and <0.5%, respectively, of GAO. Changes in number of grazing livestock in Lithuania during the period of 2003-2010 were bigger than in Latvia and Estonia. Animal number decreases were: 17%) cattle, 22% dairy cows and 62% goats. In Estonia, the number of cattle decreased by 12%, dairy cows by 20% and goats by 17%). In Latvia, changes were less drastic, the number of cattle increased by 4%, although the number of dairy cows decreased by 8%). The number of goats decreased by 21%. In all three Baltic countries the number of sheep during this period doubled. Despite the fact that numbers of dairy cows decreased, the volume of milk produced in all three countries increased by more than 25%. This was possible through changes in the structure of farms and in the management of the herds. The future strategies and attitudes of farmers in Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia were studied with focus on the dairy sector. A questionnaire with 49 main questions was filled in by 339 Lithuanian farmers. The questionnaire was distributed across the various size groups of farms to represent the whole dairy farming community. The farmers chose mostly further specialisation, although a group of independent diversifies was also identified. Cooperation is low on the agenda of the farmers in Lithuania. Land and labour are the limiting resources. The division of the land in use is a factor limiting the efficiency of farming, while the high percentage of rented land may be a complicating factor for the development of the sector. Lithuanian farmers considered the EU and the international milk market somewhat more as an opportunity than the farmers in Poland and Slovenia.


Keywords: Baltic states, state of art, ruminant husbandry, analysis, development paths.




Stalgiene, A.; Kuipers, A. 2014. Grazing livestock in Baltic countries and development paths of dairy farmers in Lithuania, in Cattle husbandry in Eastern Europe and China – EAAP135 / Strukture, development paths and optimization, 2014. The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers 2014, 135:73–83. ISBN 978-90-8686-232-0, eISBN 978-90-8686-785-1, ISSN 0071-2477. https://doi.org/10.3920/978-90-8686-785-1


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