The number of dairy cows in the EU will increase by 5 million on 1 May 2004 when the ten new countries join the Union. The dairy herd in the new EU will grow by one quarter to more than 24 million cows. At the end of 2002 the dairy herd in the new EU countries numbered 4.9 million cows.
Cattle in the 25 EU countries, 2002
Poland dairy country
Of the new member countries, Poland is by far the largest dairy country with nearly 3 million dairy cows. More than half of cattle in Poland are dairy cows. In the EU 25 as a whole this is just over one quarter.
In terms of the proportion of dairy cattle, Poland resembles the Netherlands, where dairy farming is also important. Here, the dairy herd consists of 1.5 million cows, accounting for 40 percent of total cattle in the Netherlands.
In the new EU Poland will be third largest dairy cattle country, after Germany and France. As far as total cattle numbers are concerned Poland only comes in seventh place. Together, the other nine new countries have smaller numbers of cattle and dairy cows than Poland.
Share of dairy cows in overall cattle, 2002
Decrease in number of beef cows
The total number of cattle in the EU – 88.5 million heads – is decreasing though, and the decrease is faster than that of dairy cattle alone.
In Poland this process is occurring faster than in the new EU as a whole. In Poland the number of cattle has dropped by 5 percent since 2000 while the number of dairy cows there has hardly decreased.
Folkert van der Werf