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Number of pigs in the Netherlands continues to decline

The number of pigs in the Netherlands has decreased by almost a million animals since 2018, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics. The number has fluctuated above 12 million for years since 2011, but since 2018 there has been a clear decline.

On 1 April this year, the Netherlands had 512,000 (4 percent) fewer pigs than in 2020. Pig farms now have more than 11.4 million animals.

Since 2011, the number of pig farmers has almost halved. However, the number of pigs per farmer has increased so much that the total number of animals has not decreased so much. Of the approximately 6,500 pig farms in 2011, there are still some 3,400 left this year. In the same period, the number of pigs per farmer doubled to an average of 3400 animals.

One of the reasons for the decline in the number of pig farmers is that they have been encouraged by various schemes to stop their business. The aim of these schemes is to reduce odor nuisance in areas with many pig houses and to ensure that less nitrogen is released into the air.

Cows, goats and chickens

Statistics Netherlands also looked at the size of the cattle herd. It has hardly changed in recent years. In 2021 there were 17,000 (0.4 percent) fewer cattle than a year earlier. The CBS has noticed that dairy farms are using more and more land. In 2021 a dairy cow farm had an average of 58 hectares of cultivated land, almost 12 hectares more than in 2011.

The growth in the number of dairy goats has leveled off in the past year. In 2021 there were 482,000 dairy goats in the Netherlands, more than 1 percent more than the year before. The number has increased fivefold in the past two decades, but due to health risks for local residents, several provinces have imposed a ‘goat stop’.

The number of chickens has also shrunk slightly in the past year. In total there were about 99.9 million chickens in 2021, 2 percent less than a year earlier.

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