Drought Especially Tough on Croatian Sheep Farmers: Hardest Year in Last 30

Drought Especially Tough on Croatian Sheep Farmers: Hardest Year in Last 30

October 14, 2022 - The drought created big problems for Croatian sheep farmers. The largest sheep farm in Krk produces five and a half tonnes of cheese annually. And while last year, despite the pandemic, was good for them, they are adding damage due to the drought this year.

As HRT writes, they do hope that the sheep will recover by the time they need to be milked and that they will persist in the quality of the cheese.

Both in summer and winter, about four hundred sheep of the Mrakovčić family roam freely in the pastures on the sunniest side of the island of Krk. They learned everything about sheep from their ancestors and founded their OPG and Sirana (family farm and cheese production) about thirty years ago. But due to the dry summer, this is their first year which they think could be critical.

"We normally do not add fodder or dry hay during the summer, but only during February and March when the vegetation is scarce. I don't remember having to add so much water and food," says Mirjenko Mrakovčić, owner of OPG from Kornić, Krk.

Typically, sheep consume a cubic meter of water daily and up to twelve hay bales." And you can see that the sheep are not in the best condition and have lost some weight. Well, you can't see it now because of the wool, but if you fleeced them, it would become apparent. They graze on grass, eat young olive leaves, blackberries, whatever they find, and laurel is the sweetest for them", said Marko.

Everyone hopes the sheep will have recovered by the time they need to be milked.

"We exclusively milk sheep who graze on vegetation; we do not add anything, which is why our milk and cheese are of high quality," emphasizes Mirjenko.

They are the eight-time champions of Croatia and the region. The flavours of their cheeses - Green and Black Bodul, Ordinary, and Magriž - are enjoyed on all continents. They even refined the offer on the doorstep with olive oil and sweet delicacies.

"One month is better; another is worse; we get some incentives from the county and some from European funds. We have had customers for about 20 years," pointed out Vesna Mrakovčić, owner of the OPG.

Their good results are spoiled by wild boars and jackals, killing about twenty sheep yearly.

"As far as I know, two farms are now selling sheep; there is no future if the wild boars and jackals are not removed from the island of Krk," emphasized Mirjenko.

The reality is these humble OPGs are just desperate to maintain the high quality of their products.

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