Uruguay - Animal husbandry

Livestock is the basis of the economy. The production costs of stock raising are low, and the quality of the product is generally high. Hereford, Shorthorn, and Aberdeen Angus breeds account for 90% of all beef cattle, with Hereford the most numerous. Corriedale represents about 70% of the sheep stock, followed by Ideal (11%).

Uruguay is especially suited to the raising of sheep and cattle. In 2001, Uruguay had 12,083,000 sheep, second in South America after Brazil. There were also 10,595,000 head of cattle, 590,000 horses, 343,000 pigs, 15,000 goats, and 15 million chickens in 2001. Milk production has been expanding rapidly in recent years, reaching 1,495,000 tons in 2001. The preferential duties provided under Mercosur have given Uruguay a great advantage in selling its dairy products to Brazil. The main products exported are cheese, whole and nonfat dry milk, and butter. Meat production in 2001 included 459,000 tons of beef and 51,000 tons of mutton. Beef consumption in Uruguay was about 60 kg per person in 1998, one of highest rates in the world. Leading exports of animals and animal products by value (in millions of dollars) in 2001 were: wool, $20 million; dairy and eggs, $130.2 million; and meat products, $269.2 million.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for stock raising and breeding, control of animal diseases, and improvement of existing grassland and arable resources. The National Meat Board acts as consultant to the government. The meat-packing industry, taken over by the government in 1958, has been restored to the private sector. The government encourages local production through a system of special licenses or customs documents for imported meat and livestock. Furthermore, imports of bull semen and embryos are numerically restricted and must comply with animal health requirements.

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