US researcher helps start-up Ukrainian pig farmers

Ukrainian pig farmers
Photo: Canva

Dr Justin Brown, assistant teaching professor at Iowa State University, offers Ukrainian grain farmers that want to attempt pig farming a series of webinars. These farmers can take advantage of the current good pig prices, which can compensate them for the low grain prices. Brown helps them with a series of 10 webinars, that have covered biosecurity and disease identification, treatment and prevention.

The webinars consist of a presentation by Brown (with slides translated by the Association of Ukrainian Pig Breeders and recorded dubbing), along with a live Q&A session with a translator present. In a recent Iowa State article, Dr Brown noted that “the questions come flying in, and [these new pig farmers] ask a lot of really good ones. There is definitely a thirst for in-depth knowledge.”

Though geared toward newcomers, the workshop participants have included experienced Ukrainian swine veterinarians, university researchers and students. Each session has drawn up to 100 participants.

Oksana Yurchenko, president of the Association of Ukrainian Pig Breeders, and Justin Brown, assistant teaching professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State University, during the August version of a series of webinars Brown is holding for first-time Ukrainian hog farmers. Photo: Justin Brown.
Oksana Yurchenko, president of the Association of Ukrainian Pig Breeders, and Justin Brown, assistant teaching professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State University, during the August version of a series of webinars Brown is holding for first-time Ukrainian hog farmers. Photo: Justin Brown.

Reduced access to grain markets for Ukrainian crop farmers

The decimation of parts of Ukraine due to Russian attacks, along with political conflicts over the past 18 months have reduced access to grain markets for Ukrainian crop farmers. The resulting inventory glut has driven grain prices down. At the same time, with some livestock farms being wiped out due to war, meat production in the country has decreased. In 2022, Ukraine lost nearly 12% of its pig population, resulting in a supply shortage of about 100,000 tonnes of pork last year.

Higher pork prices

This in turn has increased the price of pork, beef and other meat. Although pork prices vary drastically in Ukraine by region, with much higher prices in the destroyed areas and war zones, in the early summer, the average price of pork in slaughter weight in Ukraine reached 85.5 hryvnias (US$ 2.3) per kg according to the Ukrainian pig farmers association.

In response, about a third of 150 large pig farms (with more than 1.5 million pigs) in Ukraine-controlled territories plan to increase their production capacity this year, according to an opinion poll that the association conducted around that time. Almost all surveyed farmers confirmed some development plans.

Getting back to normal production levels

However, getting back to normal production levels is also being attempted in destroyed areas of Eastern Ukraine. One of the biggest pig farms, Agrocomplex Slobozhansky, is trying to rebuild. It was under Russian occupation for 7 months starting in late February 2022.

Problems before conflict

Ukraine’s pork industry was suffering before the Russian attacks began in early 2022. In 2021, Ukraine’s per capita pork consumption was showing a continued drop of 7 kg or 30% over levels a few years previous. Pork was simply too expensive for the average Ukrainian consumer to buy very often.

This falling demand led to a corresponding drop in pork production. The industry also had unprecedented financial losses in 2021, when poor prices combined with a 20-40% jump in production costs.

Hein
Treena Hein Correspondent
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