The rate of slaughter of dairy cows in Spain continues to grow, with 50,000 cattle in the last year and a half, which is explained because it is more profitable for the farmer to sell his meat than to keep it producing milk with skyrocketing costs, even if Dairy supply at risk.
This process has increased over the months and is affecting those older cows that are the ones that produce less milk but whose meat is gaining value in restaurants, according to various sources in the sector .
The latest reports already reflect the situation to the point that milk production in Spain began to decline in March, when it registered a drop of 1.4% per year, and in June that decline was 2.7%.
As for the cattle slaughter survey, the latest dossier offered by the Government also shows that the number of cattle (beef and dairy) sent to the slaughterhouse rose by 10.10% year-on-year in May (last month available) and a 7.15% in the accumulated from January to May.
The president of the main association of dairy farmers in Spain (Agaprol), Francisco Fernández, has justified this “reality” because the farmers are “just profitable and losing money in many cases.”
Faced with this situation, it is decided to “sacrifice cows, generate liquidity and feed the rest that produce more milk.”
All of this has led to the census of milking cows already being below 800,000 heads and with a decreasing rate of milk production that will be more pronounced in these summer months, when the animals produce less.
In fact, he foresees that in the autumn there will be problems of national milk supply in a country that is already deficient in this food.
According to Fernández, there is “nervousness” in the industry and in distribution in the face of this situation, which can lead to a lack of stock.
The person in charge of the Asaja dairy sector, Ramón Artime, has signed all this and has clarified that, “at the rate we are going, in October-November there will surely be no milk”, and the “first ones who will pay for it will be the small cheesemakers who will have supply problems.
The “perfect storm” started in June of last year with the rise in the cost of cereals, to which was added the rise in diesel, energy and the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which complicated the situation, according to has explained.
Although part of this rise in costs has been passed on throughout the chain, to the point of increasing the retail price of milk by around 20 cents/litre on average, they have not managed to cover all costs.
For this reason, it has been decided in many cases to slaughter more cows since their meat has been revalued “a lot in spring-summer”.
In COAG they have maintained a similar analysis and have ensured that in the dairy sector, the animal is sent to the slaughterhouse more “when the cow is worth money” and it is “the reality that is now behind all this”, as indicated to Efe by the head of beef, Joaquín Gargallo.
This trend is also being noticed in beef cattle, although to a lesser extent than in milk, it has tempered.
Gargallo is clear that it is “a good time to slaughter larger cattle, because they have value.”
The Secretary of Livestock of UPA, Román Santalla, has reaffirmed that “more animals than should be usual, mainly beef” are being sent to the slaughterhouse.
In the case of milk-producing cows, ranchers are choosing to slaughter those that produce less than “25-28 liters per day” because they obtain higher value from the sale of their meat.
The situation is such that, as he has remarked, “a part of the salvation of the farms has been meat and not milk”.
Despite everything, Santalla is optimistic and believes that in the coming months the milk sales price at origin will be able to cover production costs, which would put a stop to the tendency to slaughter more cattle.