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Examining the Milk Cow Numbers in the EU

German and French dairy cows account for more than one-third of all dairy cows in the European Union. According to EuroStat estimates, they had more than 7 million cows between them in 2022, out of a total of 20.1 million.

Germany had the highest dairy cow population in the EU, with 3.8 million cows, accounting for 17% of the overall EU dairy population (excluding the UK). France had 3.2 million animals, while Poland had the third-largest national herd, with little more than 2 million.

In 2022, the majority of EU nations had an annual fall in cow numbers, with France seeing the greatest loss, with 91,720 (2.7%) fewer animals than the previous year.

Austria, which saw the most growth inside the EU last year, defied the trend. The population reached 551,000 people, an increase of 24,090 (4.6%) from 2021.

Malta, on the other hand, remained the EU’s lowest milk-producing country, with just 6,120 documented in 2022.

According to Defra estimates, the UK, which had the third-largest herd in the EU before Brexit, had 2.65 million head, a 1,000-head decrease. The milking herd totaled 1.86 million head in December, a small rise over the same time in 2021.

This year, cow numbers are anticipated to plummet much lower. The European Commission anticipated a 0.2% reduction in milk output for 2023 in its short-term dairy outlook. Due to a shrinking dairy herd and a predicted 1% rise in slaughtering, there will be less milk available in 203.

According to Tom Price, an expert at the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, the second half of the year might see significant declines in output owing to falling milk prices. This might be countered by increased harvests if the hot and dry weather of last summer does not reoccur.

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