The number of very large factory farms in the Netherlands has gone up 76% over the past seven years and there are now 801 ‘mega’ farm complexes, according to a report by Wageningen University researchers on behalf of animal rights foundation Wakker Dier.
In particular there has been a very sharp rise in the number of very large dairy farms with over 250 cows since milk quotas were lifted, Wakker Dier said. Some 439 of the mega factory farms are predominantly dairy.
Most of the giant farms are found in Noord-Brabant, where the total rose almost 70% in seven years to 211.
Wakker Dier defines a mega factory farm as one in which large numbers of animals live in one or more barns – in total at least 7,500 pigs, 120,000 laying hens, 220,000 broiler chickens, 2,500 veal calves or 1,500 goats.
In total, 75 million animals living in the Netherlands are living on giant factory farms.
The organisation wants the government to step in. ‘By focusing continually on lower costs, animal welfare is being squeezed,’ chairman Anne Hilhorst said. ‘And there is barely any room in mega barns for straw or natural behaviour.’
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