Fewer pigs and cows, more milk goats

The number of goats kept for their milk rose by 23 percent between 1 April 2001 and 1 April 2002, to nearly 143 thousand. Cattle numbers fell by 5 percent to just over 3.8 million and the pig stock shrank by 11 percent to 11.6 million in the same period.

Cattle, dairy cows and milk goats

Just as many dairy cows as in 1949

The number of cattle has fallen again. This has become a familiar trend ever since the introduction of milk quotas in 1983. On 1 April 2002 there were 3.8 million head of cattle in the Netherlands, down from just over 5.4 million at the time the quotas were introduced.

The number of dairy cows has also decreased substantially, by more than 60 thousand to just under 1.5 million. This means that there are now just as many dairy cows in the Netherlands as in 1949.

The pig stock, too, was also down considerably. In 1997 there were just as many pigs as people in the Netherlands, i.e. 15.2 million. On 1 April 2002 there were only 11.6 million pigs, nearly a quarter fewer. The pig stock diminished by 11 percent in the previous twelve months.

Cattle and pig stock per province, 2002

Pig stock up in Groningen alone

The numbers of cattle and pigs fell in nearly all provinces. Only in the province of Groningen did the number of pigs increase between 1 April 2001 and 1 April 2002. In the provinces Gelderland and North Brabant the pig stock was reduced by nearly 12 percent, more than the national average.

Another noticeable exception was the increase of cattle in Flevoland. In all the other provinces cattle numbers fell, in South Holland by most: 7.3 percent.

More goat farms

In contrast to the decrease in cattle and pig stocks, the number of milk goats has increased sharply, a trend that has been observed since 1984. Since 1995 some 10 to 20 thousand milk goats have been added to the stock yearly; in 2002 their numbers reached 143 thousand.

This makes milk goats the main source of income for an increasing number of farmers. While there were 137 goat farms in 1995, this had risen to more than 250 by 2001. Goat farming is one of the few areas in farming that is still expanding. Pig farming is declining fastest.

Cattle and pig numbers, 2001-2002

Cor Pierik