Demand up for Locally Produced Milk


The island is currently experiencing an increase in the demand for locally produced milk, as a result of the increase in the cost of skimmed milk on the international market.
This was disclosed by Acting Chairman of the Jamaica Dairy Farmers Federation, Aubrey Taylor, in an interview with JIS News.
According to Mr. Taylor, locally produced milk has once again become competitive with the price of milk powder, as currently a sachet of the product now costs more than locally produced milk.
He said that although the markets are turning toward Jamaican milk, there would be the constant need to import milk powder as “processors will always need milk powder to supplement the shortfall in locally produced milk.”
Commenting on the improvement in production, Mr. Taylor pointed out that based on the fact that most of the milk producing areas across the island is currently experiencing drought conditions, the likelihood of increased production would not commence until spring, when weather conditions are improved. “I don’t see production increasing until around April or May,” he said.
To meet the expected demand for milk, he emphasized that pastures which are now in ruin must be resuscitated; milk must be produced from grass rather than from concentrated feed being fed to the animals; and improved grass quality and a national fodder conservation programme must be implemented.
He further pointed out that following Hurricane Dean and the heavy rains that affected the island last year, dairy cows were severely affected as their hooves became soft and tender, which restricted their movement.
Grass, he pointed out, makes up almost 100 per cent of feed stock for cows and once the moisture content is high, the animals will not consume as much as they normally would. This, he said, caused stress on the animals which ultimately affected milk production.
Rehabilitation measures, he outlined, included frequent veterinary visits to the farm to check on the animal and utilizing footbaths, developed from Copper Sulfate to harden the hooves.
The Acting Chairman revealed that his organization is currently in dialogue with the Ministry of Agriculture regarding the improvement of the dairy industry and a number of recommendations are being considered. These recommendations, he said, include the importation of cattle, ember transplant and improving the female herd.
In the early 1990s, some 38 million litres of milk were produced on a yearly basis. However, last year just under 15 million litres were produced by the island’s dairy farmers.

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