Veterinary Tales about Livestock
told by Leo Rogier Verberne
From family farming to factory farming
The true stories in this book are a selection from the daily practice of a rural veterinary surgeon. They mainly take place in the countryside of North Brabant (The Netherlands). From 1984 until 2015 livestock farming saw a metamorphosis under the influence of European dairy produce quota: 70% of the dairy farmers discontinued their farm. But the number of cows in the Netherlands decreased by 'only' 25%. So the dairy farms that continued to exist became larger: in 1984, Dutch farmers milked an average of 42 cows. By 2015, when the levy was lifted, the number of cows per farm had increased to 89. Therefore everything on the farms had to be enlarged: the stables, the amount of stored feeds, the storing capacity of slurry, the acreage of pastures and fields and the farm machinery. Thus, the traditional small family farms grew into big factory farms requiring far-reaching automation: the investment in robotic milking, among other things.
1984: dual purpose cow for milk and meat (16 liters of milk per day)
This scaling up also had far-reaching consequences for veterinary surgeons. They had been trained to heal sick animals. But on such big factory farms a single animal no longer counts and treating sick animals individually has disappeared for the greater part: cows that do not produce enough are simply cleared away. The economy is unrelenting. The veterinary surgeon on the family farm of olden days is replaced by the veterinary supervisor for modern factory farming. The former profession of the doctor for sick livestock is an old trade now, much like the miller, the horse driver and the farm worker. These developments occur in the background of the stories in this book.
© Leo Rogier Verberne