Italy might kill hundreds of dairy cows over Ukraine corn shortage 

Heads of black and white cows through a cage, animal news
Cows stick their heads out of a pen to eat, Cirio Agricola farm in Piana di Monte Verna, Italy, March 16, 2022, photo: Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Italy might kill hundreds of dairy cows because the country is struggling with a shortage of Ukraine corn, used for animal feed. Italian farmers are concerned about the war’s consequences on the animal farming sector.

”The Ukrainian-Russian conflict has taken over from an already stressful period for us, after two long pandemic years, which had already put a strain on business management,” Pietro Fusco from cow milk company Cirio Agricola said. “We currently have problems with the purchase of feed for the animals.”

”We certainly need to consider reducing the feed intake to the herd as a first step,” Fusco said. He added that killing part of the animals might be needed to keep the company going.

”Ukrainian corn is not that much. It’s just 13% of what is used in Europe and Italy. The problem is that the perfect storm is happening,” Michele Liverini, acting president of Assalzoo, the Italian National Association of Livestock Feed Manufacturer, said.

“When the Ukrainian export stopped, countries like Moldova, Serbia and Hungary tried to stop exporting because of protectionism, and we found ourselves with a big problem in our ports,” she said. “In Italian ports, where ships from these countries arrive every week, there is only a 25-day supply left.”

Assalzoo said that if there’s no alternative corn supply channel, animal feed production will stop, and farmers will have to kill the animals they can’t feed.

“In the case of dairy cows, if we stop and send dairy cows to slaughter, it will take 7/8 years to rebuild a barn to produce milk again,” Liverini said.

At the moment, the only real alternative for Italy appears to be the American market, but it will take five to eight weeks for ships to arrive. Italy is already planning to produce more maize, so it doesn’t need to rely on other countries.


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