The Netherlands has fewer pig farms but each one has more pigs

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo:
Pigs on a factory farm. Photo:

The number of pig farmers in the Netherlands may have halved since 2011 but the number of animals per farm has doubled in that time, national statistics agency CBS  figures show..

There are currently 3,400 pig farmers in the Netherlands, each with an average of 3,400 pigs. The biggest farms are situated in Limburg and Noord Brabant with an average of 5,300 and 4,800 animals respectively.

Despite recent government schemes to encourage farmers to give up their businesses in order to bring down nitrogen-based pollution, the number of pigs has only gone down by a million since 2018.

The total number hovered for years above the 12 million mark and is still over 11.4 million, the figures show.

The most recent compensation scheme for pig farmers had some 430 applicants but only 278 actually went through with it the plan to close down, agriculture ministry figures showed.

Other livestock

The number of cows has remained more or less the same in the past years, the CBS found. Dairy cow farms have become bigger however, with an average acreage of 58 hectares, up 12 hectares compared to a decade earlier.

Dairy goat numbers have not grown significantly either after health considerations  prompted many provinces to stop giving out licences for new farms.

The number of chickens in the Netherlands has shrunk by 2% compared to last year, to a total of 99.9 million.

Political pressure to limit the volume of livestock kept on Dutch farms is mounting, however.

Recent legislation, which will come into effect in 2023, will require farmers to prevent animals from suffering pain or discomfort when kept in cages or stables, and allow them to display natural behaviour. That could put an end to intensive livestock farming, experts have said.

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