More goats but fewer pigs and cattle

The Dutch goat herd has increased again this year, by 4.5 percent to 614 thousand heads year-on-year. On the other hand, the number of pigs (12.1 million heads) and bovine animals (3.8 million heads) showed a slight decline. These are revised provisional figures released as part of the Agricultural Census published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

The goat herd tripled in size between 2000 and 2018. A temporary decline was recorded from 2009 to 2010, which was due to the livestock cullings after outbreaks of Q fever.

Dutch livestock herd
JaartalGoats (2010=100)Pigs (2010=100)Other (mainly beef) cattle (2010=100)Dairy cows and young cattle (2010=100)Sheep (2010=100)
*Provisional figures

Goat populations still growing in Gelderland and Noord-Brabant

In view of the potential health risks for residents living near goat farms, the provincial authorities in Gelderland and Noord-Brabant imposed restrictions on goat farming in the summer of 2017. Despite these restrictions, this year the number of goats in the two provinces is up by 6 and 2 percent respectively, relative to 2018. The goat population in Gelderland grew by approximately 8.6 thousand. The herd in Noord-Brabant grew less rapidly, by slightly over 3 thousand heads. Over half of the total goat population in the country is found in these two provinces.

Specialised goat farms account for 92 percent of all goats kept on agricultural holdings. Between 2018 and 2019, the goat population kept at such farms has risen by 4 percent from over 546 thousand to 567 thousand.

Goat population, 2019*
ProvincieGoat population ( thousand)
Groningen 11.77
Friesland 25.09
Drenthe 20.23
Overijssel 85.61
Flevoland 9.00
Gelderland 148.26
Utrecht 31.79
Noord-Holland 18.73
Zuid-Holland 23.71
Zeeland 4.23
Noord-Brabant 175.16
Limburg 60.77
*Provisional figures

Slight decline in pig population

In 2019, as in previous years, the pig population is seeing a continued decline. The total number of pigs in the country stands at slightly over 12.1 million heads, i.e. 293 thousand (2 percent) fewer than in 2018.

Nearly half of this population can be found in Noord-Brabant. The pig population in this province has declined by 3 percent or 193 thousand heads.

Cattle population slightly decreased

This year, the Netherlands’ cattle population stands at 3.8 million heads. This represents a year-on-year decline of 116 thousand or 3 percent. Nearly one-quarter of the bovine herd kept in the Netherlands can be found in the province of Gelderland (919 thousand heads). This is followed by Noord-Brabant and Overijssel, each holding 16 percent of the cattle herd, and Friesland with 14 percent of the total cattle population.

Noord-Brabant province in particular showed a decline (by 5 percent or 30 thousand heads) among the provinces with the largest share of bovine animals. The herd barely declined in Gelderland (by 1 percent). The sharpest drop was recorded in Zuid-Holland. With only 4 percent of the total cattle population, this province holds a relatively minor share.

Cattle population, 2019*
ProvincieCattle population ( thousand)
Groningen 196.79
Friesland 528.31
Drenthe 227.90
Overijssel 623.40
Flevoland 67.19
Gelderland 927.47
Utrecht 187.73
Noord-Holland 155.71
Zuid-Holland 176.38
Zeeland 53.39
Noord-Brabant 636.15
Limburg 138.77
*Provisional figures