Growing number of dairy cattle have no access to pasture

26/09/2012 15:00

The provisional results of the 2012 Agricultural census show that the number of grazing dairy cattle has declined considerably from 90 percent in 2001 to 70 percent in 2011.

Grazing dairy cattle

Grazing dairy cattle

More dairy cattle confined in the cowshed on large-scale farms

There is an obvious relation between the choice to disallow dairy cattle access to pasture and farm size. Large-scale dairy farmers more often tend to confine their cattle to the shed permanently. On dairy farms with 160 or more cattle, only 42 percent are pastured versus more than 93 percent for dairy farms with less than 40 cows.

Grazing dairy cattle by size of the farm, 2011

Grazing dairy cattle by size of the farm, 2011

Considerable regional differences

More cattle are grazing in pasture areas than in the arable areas in the provinces of Groningen, Flevoland and Zeeland. At least 85 percent of dairy cattle in the northwest part of the Netherlands (the pasture areas in the west part of the provinces of Utrecht and North and South Holland) have access to pasture. In the west part of the province of Gelderland and the east part of Utrecht, 75 to 85 percent of dairy cattle are pastured. In the vast pasture areas in the east and north of the country and in the province of Zeeland, 65 to 75 percent of dairy cows are pastured. Proportionally, most cattle are confined to sheds in the IJsselmeer polders, but this area has only 2 percent of dairy cattle. In areas of intensive dairy farming, like the province of North Brabant, the number of grazing dairy cattle is significantly lower.

Grazing dairy cattle by agricultural region, 2011

Grazing dairy cattle by agricultural region, 2011

André Meurink