Animal husbandry

Milk production is one of the most significant agricultural sectors in Latvia and it has proven itself as the sector with stable development and future perspective.  Improvement of genetic quality of cows and herd management resulted in annual increase in the average milk yield per lactation, thus the total milk yield is also increasing.

Source: Agricultural Data Center, Central Statistical Bureau  
Translation: Dynamics of the number of dairy cows and the average milk yield in Latvia in 2011 -2013
Total number of dairy cows
Number of farms
Average milk yield in the country, kg/per annum
Average milk myield per cow under recording, kg/per annum

Concentration of milk production sector – farms, which are able to ensure an effective production of milk, are increasing the number of cows, but part of small farms have discontinued their operation in milk sector, as it was difficult for them to ensure a low production cost and sufficiently high quality of milk. On April 1, 2015 milk quotas will be abolished thus, milk producers will not be restricted in marketing of fresh milk they have produced however, producers will have to follow the market situation and trends and adjust their planning because outlet possibilities will depend on market demand.

Breeding of beef animals is gradually developing and improving in Latvia. The sector aims at production of high quality beef, provision of consumers with beef from beef animals reared in Latvia as well as improvement of competitiveness and export possibilities. Currently, the production volumes are not high because beef production cycle is relatively long and it is not possible to rapidly increase the production. Beef animal breeders are able to develop thanks to increasing exports of beef animals. Export is going to Lithuania, Estonia and Scandinavia. Diversity of breeds of beef animals bred in Latvia is continuously increasing. The breeds of beef animals mostly bred in Latvia are Aberdeen Angus, Charollais, Hereford, Limousine and Simmenthal.

In pig breeding sector, in 2013, the total number of pig breeding farms and animals increased, in general a positive development trend can also be observed and the situation can be assessed as a good one. Whereas, the future prognosis must be evaluated in junction with prices for animal feed and other resources and their changeability as well as unforeseeable impact of infectious diseases. To improve competitiveness of the sector, pig breeders must continuously reduce production costs and optimize the number of pigs (the number of pigs up to 50 on a farm). Pig meat producers must seek cooperation possibilities with feed producers and meat processors as well as continue pedigree breeding work to achieve a more efficient use of genetically determined productivity potential.

Horse breeding. In Latvia horses are mainly used for sporting activities, tourism, recreation, reittherapy and by border guards. There is a low demand for sports and recreational horses on the domestic market, thus the number of horses is reducing every year. More active is trade with CIS and Scandinavian States. To facilitate development of horse breeding, competitiveness of horses bred in Latvia must be improved on international market, thus horse breeders must use a high quality breeding material, ensure a proper keeping and feeding and involve qualified staff on all the levels.

Sheep breeding in Latvia is still developing, and the proof of this is in increasing number of registered sheep. It is due to a growing demand for mutton both on internal and external markets as well as to exports of live sheep to the European Union States. The sector is aiming to develop a stable sheep breeding and processing sector, able to produce qualitative, competitive meat and wool produce for internal and external markets.

The Latvian Dark Headed breed is used, as the basic breed, which can yield meat, wool and furs. Because the market situation has changed and the major trend in sheep breeding has become meat production, now the main objective is set up to increase fertility of ewes, to maintain lambs and an intensive production of mutton.

Goat breeding is developing rather slowly. The number of goats stays stable every year and it does not show a trend towards changing. Major part of economically active goat breeding farms is organic farms, which are basically oriented to home-based production, offering goat milk products on the market. Lately, there is an increasing interest in production of goat meat.