Number of mega-stables in NL grew 76% in seven years

Cows in a stable
Cows in a stable. (Photo: vpardi/DepositPhotos)

The number of so-called mega-stables in the Netherlands increased from 456 in 2010 to 801 in 2017, an increase of 76 percent, animal rights organization Wakker Dier reports based on figures from Wageningen University and Research. A mega-stable is a stable that houses more than 7,500 slaughter pigs, 1,200 breeding pigs, 120,000 laying hens, 250 dairy cows, 2,500 veal calves or 1,500 goats, RTL Nieuws reports.

"We are seriously worried. Mega stables increase the risks. In the event of a fire or illness, it immediately affects a huge number of animals", Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier said. The increase can mainly be attributed to the number of dairy cow mega-stables, which more than doubled from 197 in 2010 to 439 in 2017. Each year 75 million animals live in a mega-stable in the Netherlands. 

Last year almost 122 thousand animals died in a stable fire Over the past 10 years, 1.5 million animals died from fire, according to Wakker Dier. In 2017 a single stable fire in Gelderland killed over 20 thousand pigs. 

Wakker Dier wants the government to ban mega-stables, and not only because of the risks. "Because of the focus on ever lower costs, animal welfare is increasingly compromised. At mega-stables, there is hardly any room for straw or natural behavior, for example", Hilhorst said to the broadcaster. Mega-stables are also supplanting smaller family businesses, the number of which has halved in the last 10 years, according to Wakker Dier.