The number of dairy cattle moved out to pasture rose by about 2% to 1.16 million in 2017 according to provisional figures supplied by the national statistics office CBS published on Thursday.
This was seen mostly in larger farms with 100 or more cattle grazing in the fields.
The CBS said 68% of the country’s 1.7 million dairy cattle were put out to pasture last year. In 2015 and 2016 the figure was 65%.
But in 2010 when the total was 1.1 million dairy cattle, the figure was 75%.
Nearly half of the farms in the Netherlands are operated by people aged 55 and older. And roughly 60% of them have no successor to take over the enterprise, news service NU.nl reported on Thursday.
Young people have little interest in taking over a family farm, it said citing an ABM Amro report. And young people who are willing to do so often have trouble finding financing.
While there are fewer agrarian companies, the size of the sector keeps expanding causing financial problems for younger people. Land prices particularly in the arable farming and dairy sectors are rising sharply. Financing costs are high while revenues are relatively limited, the report said.
There problems are not limited to the Netherlands, smaller farms are finding similar obstacles elsewhere in Europe and in the US, the report said.