Trend break: The number of dairy farmers is decreasing sharply

Trend break: The number of dairy farmers is decreasing sharply
Trend break: The number of dairy farmers is decreasing sharply

With 3.08 billion liters of milk, Flemish dairy farming scored slightly better in 2023 than in 2022 when production was 3.07 billion liters of milk. This production was achieved with 3,557 dairy farms, 4 percent less than in 2022 (3,687). This apparent contradiction can be explained by the higher production at existing companies. The number of liters produced per operation increased by 3 percent.

“This is only possible thanks to excellent management on the dairy farms, which is also reflected in the MCC research results on the quality and composition of the milk,” said Tom Van Nespen, chairman of the Flanders Milk Control Center, at the presentation of the MCC annual report 2023 at the general membership meeting last week.

MCC monitors milk quality on behalf of the dairy chain. It did this last year using more than two million milk samples. This shows that the percentage of deliveries in which antibiotic residues were detected decreased slightly to 0.016 percent. The coli count of the milk (indication of hygiene), on the other hand, increased by 30 percent compared to 2022 to 15.8 per ml. The average germ count (indication of the number of bacteria) in the milk increased slightly to an average of 9,700 per ml.

Fewer quality fanciers than last year

Due to the significant increase in the average coli count, the number of MCC quality fanciers decreased last year. This is a certificate that is issued to dairy farmers who achieve the top quality standards for the germ count (<10,000/ml), the coli count (<10/ml) and the somatic cell count (<150,000/ml). In 2023, 47 dairy farmers managed to continuously meet these strict quality standards, 44 fewer than last year.

According to Benedikt Sas, this is not a sign of deteriorating business operations. “This may have to do with the extremely wet year, which means that the bacteriological pressure is higher than normal.” The director further points out the average somatic cell count (indication of udder health), which at 194,300 cells per ml, is below 200,000 cells per ml for the fifth year in a row, making Flemish dairy farming one of the top European companies. “These statistics show that 98 percent of Flemish dairy farms meet the strictest quality standards.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Trend #break number #dairy farmers #decreasing #sharply


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