The number of cattle farms has been reduced by more than fifty percent over the last twenty years. In 2004 there were over 38 thousand cattle farms, as against almost 80 thousand two decades ago.
Cattle stock substantially reduced
In the last twenty years the cattle stock was reduced by almost one third from 5.5 million head of cattle in 1984 to under 3.8 million in 2004. The reduction is partly due to the introduction of milk quotas in 1983.
Cattle farms and average number of cattle
As the number of cattle farms was reduced, the number of cattle per farm was scaled up. The average number of cattle per farm rose from 69 in 1984 to 100 in 2004.
In particular the number of farms with fewer than 50 cows decreased dramatically; in 1985 there were almost 38 thousand, as against only 14 thousand in 2004. The number of farms with more than 150 cows, on the other hand, remained stable at approximately 3 thousand.
Milk and beef
In 1984 more than 82 percent of cattle stock were dairy cows. In 2004 this is reduced to just about 70 percent. The number of beef calves increased slightly over the past two decades, other beef cattle slightly decreased.
Fewer dairy cows per hectare
More than 60 percent of farms had more than two dairy cows per hectare of farmland in 1984. In 2003 only 20 percent had more than two cows per hectare. This is an indication that intensive dairy farming is becoming less popular.