Fewer dairy cows in most EU dairy countries; not in the Netherlands

The number of dairy cows in the European Union decreased again last year. The livestock has been declining continuously for six years. According to the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), 16.04 million dairy cows were kept in the 11 EU countries surveyed last year. 

Last year there were about 105 thousand dairy cows, or 0.7 percent less than a year earlier. Most dairy cows can still be found in Germany (3.8 million), but that is 1.9 % less. The other large dairy farmer, France, has also significantly reduced the number of cows. It fell by 65 thousand or 1.9% to 3.27 million during the year.

According to Eurostat, 1.57 million cows were milked in the Netherlands in May 2022, the same number as a year earlier.

The largest decrease of almost 2 percent was recorded for Belgium with minus 2.3 percent and a decrease to 526 thousand. animals. In addition, cow numbers in Romania, Denmark, Italy and Sweden fell between 1.3% and 1.8%.

In Ireland, an increase in the cow herd has been observed for several years, continuing to 1.63 million head. The dairy herd in Austria has grown even more in percentage, by 3.4%, and in Spain even by 7.7 percent. 

According to Eurostat, the total livestock in the eleven EU countries surveyed has decreased by almost 1 million head, or 1.6%, to 61.25 million animals compared to last year. Most responsible for this was France, with 447,000 fewer animals, or 2.5 percent, to 17.42 million. Belgian producers reduced livestock by 5.0 percent. up to 2.24 million animals.

In Germany the livestock decreased by 193 thousand, by 1.7 percent. 

Only in Ireland and the Netherlands did farmers increase their livestock slightly compared to the previous year, by 0.5 and 1.0 percent respectively.