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Number of dairy cows in the Netherlands 2000-2019

A stereotypical image of the Dutch countryside would quite likely consist of flat, green meadows filled with horses, sheep and of course the world-famous black-and-white cows. And there is some truth to each stereotype: there were an impressive 1.58 million cows in the Netherlands in 2019, or almost one-tenth of the country’s human population.

 Scaling up in dairy farming 

  In 2019, just over 16,000 farms owned dairy cows, a considerable decrease in comparison to a decade ago, when there were still over 20,000 farms with dairy cows. In the same period however, the number of cows per farm increased significantly. Whereas in 2009 the average Dutch farm had 73 dairy cows, by 2019 this had grown to 97. So although the number of farms decreased, the remaining farms had more cows to take care of. And despite the fall in farms, the number of dairy cows in the Netherlands actually continued to grow almost year-on-year.

Dairy cows in the Benelux countries

  The importance of the Netherlands in dairy farming becomes even more obvious when comparing the number of dairy cows in the country to the other Benelux countries, Belgium and Luxembourg. There were over 2.1 million dairy cows in the Benelux, but nearly three quarters of these cows were Dutch. In comparison, in Belgium there were just under 530,000 dairy cows in 2018.

Number of dairy cows in the Netherlands from 2000 to 2019

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Release date

March 2020



Survey time period

2000 to 2019

Supplementary notes

Figures were rounded.

*Provisional data

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Statistics on "Agriculture sector in the Netherlands"

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