Dairy Farming In The Netherlands Part 1


Following the Dairy Barns System team's trip to Oregan, the next stop on the itinerary was The Netherlands. This article gives an overview of what they learnt on their visit,  an insight into Dutch dairy farming and some impressive stats have been thrown into the mix too.

Dutch dairying is changing and expanding due to a consolidation of dairy farms leading to bigger farms each carrying more cows. The number of dairy farms fell from 67,300 in 1980 to 18,000 in 2016, leading to an increase in scale.

There are now 1.7 million dairy cows in the Netherlands, 600,000 fewer than in 1980 spread over those 18,000 dairy farms.

The average number of cows at a Dutch dairy farm has increased from 38 in 1980 to 97 in 2016. The 100 largest dairy farms had on average of more than 500 cows. Milk production has shot up by nearly 37% since 2005, reaching a record 14.3 billion kilos in 2016.

The main dairy cow breed is, not surprisingly, Holstein Friesian.

Dutch Map

Map showing Deventer (long red arrow) and Amsterdam (short red arrow)

The Netherlands has no Ministry of Agriculture as farming is viewed as an economic activity and so comes under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. It is now operating in a no quota environment which has seen expansion in cow numbers. To counteract this the government has introduced a contentious law requiring all dairy farms to reduce cow numbers by 20%.

20% of farms have robot milking machines and 25-40% of new installs are robots.

For more on the team's trip to The Netherlands and the different farms, they visited whilst in Deventer read part 2 of the blog.