The cows can’t come home soon enough for local dairy farmers who plan to import 185 heifers from the United States to boost milk production.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul today said the importation of the heifers was one of the issues discussed this morning with farmers who are worried about a shortfall.
Paul said the demand for milk was expected to rise later in the year, at a time when production was expected to be down, leaving dairy farmers with little choice but to import cows.
The BAS is facilitating the importation of the heifers, which will be undertaken under a Central Bank Scheme.
“We at the BAS have developed a proposal and we are working assiduously to ensure that we can bring in those animals,” Paul told Barbados TODAY following this morning’s meeting.
It was in December last year that Paul said Barbados was facing the prospects of not having enough locally-produced milk to supply the Pine Hill Dairy (PHD) in the New Year and that his organization would likely be forced to import pregnant cows as a short-term solution.
Today, the Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central also revealed that dairy farmers were facing another potential setback, with a number of animals displaying symptoms of diarrhea.
He said the problem was not widespread and farmers were taking steps to get it under control.
The cause remained a mystery, although suspicion has been thrown on the feed.
Paul said the feed company had sent a delegation to this morning’s meeting and they gave the assurance that they were examining every aspect of their production process to ensure that no contaminants were being introduced to the feed.
“We have tried to exclude everything in terms of the storage, the processes, even the inputs themselves which we give certain guarantees on. From our determination we cannot come up with any reason for the diarrhoea among some cows,” Paul explained.
Earlier this week, Dairy Operations Manager at Pine Hill Dairy Lorenzo Roach told Barbados TODAY that in recent times there had been a decline of five to ten per cent in the quantity of milk delivered to the company.
At the same time, President of the Dairy Farmers Association Brian Allan had also stated that it was not immediately clear what was responsible for the declining milk production, although some farmers felt it was connected to the feed.
He disclosed at the time that the feed supplier had been working with the farmers in an effort to get to the bottom of the problem.