The big jump in the price of animal feed – a global problem resulting from the war in Ukraine – has led Greek livestock farmers to feed their animals as little as possible or having to send their herds for slaughter, while a big drop in the production of sheep’s milk in Crete means that locally produced cheese such as graviera and anthotyro could be in short supply in the market.
In regions like Thessaly in Central Greece, where land is abundant, it is possible for cattle owners to produce their own feed and limit expenses, but in the islands of the Aegean and Crete, livestock farming is facing a problem of survival.
“Due to the dry climate of the islands, no fodder crops can be grown and the farmers need to buy all the feed. If we add the cost of transportation, the production of sheep’s milk is now unprofitable,” says Lefteris Gitsas, president of the National Interprofessional Meat Organization.
At the same time, “many herds of productive animals (animals at the age of giving birth and milk), which had another five years of opportunity to produce products, are slaughtered by the breeders because they cannot face the costs of animal feed,” explains Yannis Glentzakis, president of the Agricultural Cooperative of Rethymnon, in Crete.