Continuing heatwave forces Czech farmers to slaughter their livestock early

Photo: Irena Šarounová / Czech Radio

The ongoing hot and dry weather that continues to grip most parts of Europe is forcing Czech farmers to slaughter their cows early as they have no hay left to feed them. With grass turning brown and brittle, cows have very little to eat and livestock breeders are forced to break into their winter reserves much earlier than usual.

Photo: Irena Šarounová / Czech Radio
The Czech Republic, like the rest of Europe, is currently experiencing a period of extreme heat which, according to weather forecasts, is unlikely to end soon. According to the Czech Agrarian Chamber, extreme weather currently threatens around fifty percent of the country’s agricultural land.

The first harvest was around one third lower than in the previous year and the second harvest of hay has not even taken place in many parts of the country, because the grass hasn’t grown enough.

As a result, farmers had to start feeding their livestock with winter reserves already in June, approximately six months earlier than usual and they are worried that they will soon run out of fodder. Kamil Malát is the head of the Czech Beef Breeders Association:

“We used to import fodder all the way from Poland, but this year, it is nearly impossible, since there is almost nothing available. And if there is, the price is extremely high.

“In the past, a pack of hay would cost around three to four hundred crowns. Today, the price has already reached one thousand to 1,500 crowns, which is beyond breeders’ means.”

The worst situation is in the northwest of the country, in the Vysočina region, as well as in Central and Southern Moravia, where some farmers have already started getting rid of their livestock.

According to the head of Agricultural Association of the Czech Republic, Martin Pýcha, farmers are forced to sell their livestock prematurely and at a lower cost:

“Some companies have been forced to lower the numbers of animals, while others will not purchase any new livestock, simply because they won’t have enough fodder to feed it.”

The Czech Republic, like the rest of the continent, is facing one of the most severe droughts in its history. Last week, record-high temperatures were registered all around the country, reaching up to 38 degrees Celsius.

Photo: ČTK/Igor Zehl
Dry weather is threatening not only farm animals, but also wild animals and birds. Forest officials around the Czech Republic are supplying water to wild animals and birds in forests to help them survive the dry spell.

The drown-out period of drought also has a dramatic impact on fish breeding, with fish suffering due to a fall in water levels and lack of oxygen in water.

In reaction to the dry conditions, a severe fire warning has been issued for most parts of the country and municipalities have introduced a ban on the use of tap water to fill swimming pools and water gardens.

Regional governors and farmers have already started counting the cost of drought and are preparing to ask the state for compensation.