Environmental performance of Dutch livestock farming

Environmental performance of Dutch livestock farmin

Commissioned by Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)

Over the past 20 years the Dutch livestock farming industry has made great progress on adopting more environmentally friendly production methods. This improved environmental performance is the result of a mix of efficiency improvements by livestock farmers and suppliers and the benefits resulting from environmental policies on manure and agricultural emissions. Blonk Consultants has the knowledge and expertise needed to model and monitor all these developments. We have done this for four livestock farming sectors:Pigs, Broilers, Calves and Dairy Farming.


As part of the implementation of the ‘Clean and Efficient’ agreement between government and the agro-food sector, the sector and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (previously NL Agency) asked Blonk Consultants to identify and describe the environmental effects of the efficiency improvements and environmental measures taken over the past 20 years. By way of a theoretical exercise, we also looked at the potential for the future and made comparisons with foreign production for a few indicators.The monitoring results on the greenhouse effect and fossil energy use have been published by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency


To monitor the trends in the environmental impact of the Dutch livestock farming industry a model was made which can be used to analyse the supply chain at various reference levels. Separate LCAs were drawn up for three stages in the supply chain. These can be combined at a later stage to construct a total LCA of the retail products. These stages in the supply chain are:
  1. Rearing of the young animal
  2. The production phase of the animal (meat, milk)
  3. The slaughter and cutting and boning phase (packed meat
Calculations of the environmental impact of by-products are based on substitution, such as replacing chemical fertiliser with manure and replacing energy carriers with products obtained from the processing of slaughter by-products. Figure 1 illustrates the results for pork.


Figure 2 and 3 illustrate several important trends in the environmental impact of fresh pork.

Use of the results

Not all the results of the studies have been made publicly available. Four summary reports were made for the four sectors and published early in 2014 by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency:
  • The dairy supply chain
  • The pork supply chain
  • The broiler supply chain
  • The veal supply chain
These reports were used in the preparation of the government annual report on energy and climate in the agro-food sectors.