Dutch dairy farmers have a positive attitude towards the goals of the so called Sustainable Dairy Chain and their feasibility, and they take measures – or plan to do so – to achieve those goals. This is the outcome of a recently published study amongst 150 conventional dairy farmers and 23 organic dairy farmers by LEI of Wageningen University. (see p. 9-10 for the summary in english)

Dairy farmers often see concrete, animal-related goals as important, such as reducing the use of antibiotics, maintaining grazing and extending the lifespan of the cows. More than 65% of the dairy farmers interviewed mention using fewer antibiotics, utilising grazing, reducing gas and electricity use and producing roughage more efficiently.

Around 73% of Dutch conventional dairy farmers are motivated to reduce their antibiotic use

On the other hand, less concrete goals, or goals that fit less in the perception of the environment of the dairy farmers, tend to be seen as less important: for example improving biodiversity, using sustainably-produced soy and palm kernel, reducing phosphate in manure and more integrated sustainable stables. This is also reflected in the measures which dairy farmers have implemented or plan to implement. Moreover between 27% and 53% of the dairy farmers questioned said that they did not plan to keep fewer young stock and heifers, produce more milk or produce sustainable energy.

It appeared that the dairy farmers’ environment influenced their decisions to implement sustainability measures, especially their immediate or extended family.  Specific actors such as the veterinarian, stable builder or feed supplier primarily has an influence on specific measures related to their own fields. Approximately half of the conventional dairy farmers who completed the questionnaire indicated that they wished to keep their farm up-to-date, and approximately one third said that they preferred to see how things developed before making changes.

Some dairy farmers have solar panels on the stable roofs. But in the Netherlands this is much less than in Germany