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Milk production in Brazil: signs are pointing to growth

Dairy cattle farmers are focusing on improvement of genetics and herd management

Milk producers currently have to contend with an economic environment that tends to be difficult and is marked by falling producer prices and rising production costs. Nevertheless, after production drops in 2015 and 2016, milk producers have increased the quantity of milk delivered by 4 % in 2017. As a result, the milk producers are back on a path to growth which, according to estimates of the FAO, will characterise Brazil's dairy industry in the coming years. Brazil's milk producers can look forward to growth in the coming years.

  • Economic environment of dairy cattle farmers is characterised by lower producer prices. Nevertheless, 35 % of the milk producers intend to invest in the coming months.
  • Dairy cattle farmers in Brazil intend to invest in breeding stock and automation of milking.
  • The focus is shifting to herd management in order to increase working productivity and herd performance.  

Focus of investment of dairy cattle farmers: Breeding animals and modernisation of barns

35 % of the dairy cattle farmers surveyed in Brazil intend to invest in the coming 12 months. According to the results of the survey, all together the preferred investment areas of livestock holders are primarily the construction of new poultry houses, breeding animals and machines. 7 % of the surveyed livestock holders intend to invest in new dairy cattle barns and 10 % of those surveyed intend to modernise existing barns.

Due to the climatic conditions, barn construction plays a subordinate role. The high percentage of investments planned in breeding animals shows that dairy cattle farmers intend to develop their production further with improved genetics. For in the current phase of low prices, milk producers can fully utilise existing capacities with higher milk outputs through better genetics, and can therefore strengthen the profitability of production. The attention of milk producers is therefore on the investment in breeding animals. 

Trends in dairy cattle farming: Improvement of animal health and automated milking

In the consideration of the long-term trends, the importance of breeding for the further development of Brazil's dairy cattle farms becomes apparent. Both increasing of the milk output and the focus of breeding on robustness are important breeding goals for the surveyed dairy cattle farmers. The two trends of animal health and robustness of the cows used considered very important emphasise the goal of dairy cattle farmers of achieving a high health status and minimising the expense for animal treatments. For healthy, robust animals are a decisive factor for success for the popular outdoor management of dairy cattle herds.

In the area of mechanisation, the automation of milking is very important for milk producers. This is because, as in Brazil's entire agricultural sector, milk producers are also investing in the automation of workflows to increase working productivity. Working productivity is sometimes low on Brazilian dairy cattle farms. As a result, studies show that one worker is responsible for 25 cows on dairy cattle farms in Brazil, while in the Netherlands it's up to 90 animals. Therefore, working productivity is to be increased with mechanisation.


DLG-Agrifuture Insights

DLG-Agrifuture Insights is the new DLG knowledge brand and platform for international trend analyses in the agricultural sector. It examines the business environment in agriculture and agricultural business with a global panel of 2,000 leading farmers in 13 countries. Each month Agrifuture Insights will publish a "Graphic of the month" from the extensive range of development trends on the international agricultural markets.

Interested persons can obtain additional information on DLG-Agrifuture Insights from the DLG. The contact is Dr. Achim Schaffner, Head of the Economy Department, Tel.: 069/24788-321 or e-mail: Information is also available at