National cattle herd declining slightly

On 1 April 2019, the total cattle population in the Netherlands stood at almost 3.8 million head, 121 thousand (3 percent) less than one year previously. Once again, the average cattle herd per farm did not show any further increase. This is evident from provisional figures in the Agricultural Census 2019, conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
Cattle population, 1 April 2019* (year-on-year % change)
SoortYear-on-year change
Total cattle population-3.1
Young bovines for dairy farming-9.8
Mature dairy cattle-2.1
Other cattle-1.6
Veal calves1.7
*Provisional figures


On 1 April 2019, there were altogether 1.6 million head of dairy cattle on Dutch farms. This is over 33 thousand (2 percent) down on one year previously. Dairy farmers mainly kept fewer calves and yearlings to substitute mature cows, resulting in another decline in the herd size of young animals: over 100 thousand, a decline of nearly 10 percent.
The number of veal calves increased by nearly 2 percent and exceeded the 1 million-threshold for the first time. Other beef cattle declined by slightly under 2 percent to 244 thousand head.

Cattle population (x million)
 Mature dairy cattle (>= 2 yrs)Young bovines for dairy farmingVeal calvesOther cattle
20001.51.30.80.5
20011.51.30.70.4
20021.51.30.70.4
20031.51.20.70.4
20041.51.20.80.4
20051.41.10.80.4
20061.41.10.80.4
20071.41.10.90.4
20081.51.20.90.4
20091.51.20.90.3
20101.51.20.90.3
20111.51.20.90.3
20121.51.20.90.3
20131.61.20.90.3
20141.61.30.90.3
20151.61.30.90.3
20161.71.31.00.2
20171.71.21.00.2
20181.61.01.00.2
2019*1.60.91.00.2
*Provisional figures

No further herd expansion

The upscaling trend in the bovine sector appears to be stabilising. In 2019, the average herd size at cattle farms declined slightly for the third year in a row. Whereas the average farm still had 160 head in 2016, this year the average is 153.

Over the past four years, farms have had between 94 and 97 head of dairy cattle on average. The number of calves and yearlings has declined for the third consecutive year, from 65 in 2016 to 51 per farm on average in 2019.

Cattle herd per farm
JaartalCattle herd per farm
196018
196118
196220
196320
196420
196522
196623
196725
196826
196928
197033
197134
197237
197340
197444
197546
197648
197749
197853
197957
198060
198162
198265
198368
198469
198568
198669
198770
198869
198972
199076
199179
199278
199380
199481
199583
199684
199785
199882
199988
200088
200194
200294
200396
200499
2005103
2006104
2007108
2008114
2009120
2010120
2011121
2012125
2013133
2014136
2015143
2016160
2017156
2018153
2019*153
*Provisional figures