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How to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands?

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How to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands

How to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands? Sheep husbandry is an important part of the Dutch agricultural industry. The country has a long history of sheep herding, and there are around 1.5 million sheep in the Netherlands today. The majority of Dutch sheep live in the country’s southern and eastern provinces.

Is Sheep Farming Profitable in the Netherlands?

The high demand for wool is one of the key reasons why sheep farming may be viable in the Netherlands. Several textile enterprises in the Netherlands utilise wool to make a variety of products ranging from garments to carpets. As a result, high-quality wool is always in demand, which farmers can supply. Furthermore, the Dutch climate is ideal for sheep farming. The cool, damp weather is great for sheep, and there are lots of pastures to graze on.

Farmers will save money on food and shelter for their flock as a result, increasing profitability even further. Of course, there are risks involved in sheep farming, as there are in any agriculture. The probability of illness outbreaks among the flock is the most serious risk. Farmers can reduce this danger and increase their chances of success by taking adequate safeguards and investing in excellent animals.

How to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands?

Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands

Zero Grazing Sheep Farming

Sheep are raised in the Netherlands using a technique known as zero grazing. This means that the animals are not permitted to graze on pasture or grassland, but are instead kept in a protected shed and fed a diet of hay and other dry feeds. The main advantage of the zero-grazing strategy is that it minimises the danger of disease transmission among sheep by keeping them away from wild animals and contaminated plants.

Because all of the animals are kept in one spot, producers can closely monitor their flock’s health and nutrition. However, because it takes more labour and animal feed, zero-grazing sheep farming can be more expensive than traditional approaches. There is also a possibility that the animals will become agitated and bored if their habitat does not offer them enough stimulus.

Beginners to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands

If you want to start a sheep farm in the Netherlands, there are a few things you should know. To begin with, sheep farming is not as prevalent in the Netherlands as it is in other countries such as New Zealand or Australia. However, sheep goods such as wool and meat continue to be in demand. To start a sheep farm in the Netherlands, you must first acquire a plot of land large enough to accommodate your flock.

You will also need to construct sheep cages and shelters. Finally, make sure your fences are tall and robust enough to prevent your sheep from escaping. The next step is to choose the best sheep breed for your farm. There are many different sorts of sheep, so do some study to see which one would be best for your environment and grass type. Purchase some ewes (female sheep) and rams once you’ve decided on a breed (male sheep).

It’s finally time to start breeding your flock. The summer months are ideal for breeding ewes. After the lambs are born, they must be cared for and fed until they are ready to be sold. Sheep farming may be a financially and emotionally rewarding endeavour. It can be a terrific method to provide for yourself and your family if you are prepared to put in the effort.

Sheep Farming Areas

Sheep husbandry has a long history in the Netherlands. The Romans introduced the first sheep to the region, and they have been farmed here ever since. It is a major element of the Dutch economy, and there are numerous types of sheep farms in the country. North Holland, South Holland, Zeeland, and Groningen are the primary sheep farming areas in the Netherlands. There are also some sheep ranches in the country’s east.

The majority of sheep farms in the Netherlands are in rural locations, however, there are few in cities. It is a significant economic activity in the Netherlands’ rural areas. Sheep are used to provide meat, wool, and milk. Furthermore, they contribute to the preservation of these areas’ landscapes. Sheep grazing helps to maintain grasslands healthy and prevents weeds from taking over. Both farmers and wildlife gain from this.

The Benefits of Sheep Farming

The agriculture sector in the Netherlands is significant. It is a vital component of the Dutch agricultural business, giving numerous benefits to the country.

  1. Sheep farming in the Netherlands is highly productive and efficient. The country’s climate and topography are ideal for sheep farming, and Dutch farmers have gained vast expertise and understanding in this field. As a result, the Netherlands’ sheep farms can produce high-quality wool and meat at a low cost.
  2. This efficiency offers a number of advantages for the Dutch economy. For starters, it lowers the cost of sheep products for Dutch customers. Second, it enables the Netherlands to export sheep products at a competitive price to other nations. Finally, it aids in the creation of jobs in rural areas of the country.
  3. Sheep farming has environmental benefits in addition to economic rewards. Sheep grazing can aid in the preservation of grassland ecosystems, and wool manufacturing uses significantly less energy than synthetic fibre production. As a result, sheep farming has the potential to greatly contribute to the Netherlands’ sustainable development.

Sheep Breeds

In the Netherlands, several different breeds of sheep are raised. The Texel, a dual-purpose breed utilised for both meat and wool production, is the most popular. Dutch Spelsau, Drenthe Heath, Texel sheep, Zwartbles, Blue Texel sheep, Beltex, Suffolk, Charollais, Dutch Landrace, Ijsselmeer, East Friesian, and Lleyn are also prominent breeds. South Holland and North Brabant have the most sheep farms, followed by Zeeland.

Sheep Feeding Management

Sheep in the Netherlands are often fed a diet of hay, grass, and grain. The type of food they eat is determined by the season and what is available. Sheep graze on grass and clover in the summer. In the winter, when there is less grass available, they are given hay. Sheep are fed grain while they are pregnant or nursing. The feeding requirements of a sheep are determined by its age, weight, and health. A healthy adult sheep will consume approximately 2% of its body weight in food every day.

A healthy adult sheep weighing 100 pounds, for example, will consume approximately 2 pounds of food each day. Sheep have access to clean drinking water. Every day, they will consume approximately 0.5% of their body weight in water. A healthy adult sheep weighing 100 pounds, for example, drink roughly 0.5 pounds of water each day.

Business Plan to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands

Remember the following factors if you want to start a sheep farming business in the Netherlands. To begin with, the Netherlands is a small country with limited agricultural land. This implies that pasture and hay fields are in high demand, and you’ll need to be able to obtain adequate acreage for your flock. Second, the Netherlands has a damp climate, which can make growing sheep difficult. You must ensure that your sheep have access to shelter and dry bedding, as well as that they are as shielded from the elements as possible.

Third, because the Dutch sheep sector is fairly developed, you must be prepared to compete with well-established enterprises. This entails developing a well-thought-out company plan and providing something unique or superior to what is presently available. Finally, running a successful sheep farm necessitates devotion, hard labour, and patience. Starting a sheep farming business in the Netherlands can be a rewarding experience if you are prepared to face these hurdles. The following are the steps to beginning a sheep farming business in the Netherlands:

  1. Choose whether to farm sheep for meat, wool, or both.
  2. Choose the best sheep breed for your needs.
  3. Obtain all required licences and permits.
  4. Build or buy suitable housing and fencing for your sheep.
  5. Get a healthy flock of sheep.
  6. Make a good feeding and grazing plan.
  7. Give your flock appropriate health care.
  8. Keep detailed records of your flock management techniques.
  9. You can sell your meat, wool, or both.
  10. Enjoy the fulfilment that comes with being a successful sheep farmer.

Sheep Farming Types

In the Netherlands, there are three types of sheep farming: extensive, semi-intensive, and intense.

  1. The most traditional and prevalent type of farming in the Netherlands is extensive sheep husbandry. It entails grazing sheep on vast swaths of land, usually on natural pasture or heather. This method of sheep farming is both inexpensive and labour-intensive.
  2. Semi-intensive sheep farming is a more intensive kind of sheep farming that entails grazing sheep on smaller plots of land and frequently using the additional feed. This style of sheep farming is more expensive and labour-intensive than widespread sheep farming, but the yields can be higher.
  3. Intensive sheep farming is the most intensive type of sheep farming, involving the confinement of sheep and the use of artificial lighting and heating. This method of sheep farming is exceedingly expensive and labour-intensive, yet it can provide extremely high returns.

Commercial Sheep

Commercial sheep farming is a relatively new sector in the Netherlands, having only begun in earnest in the early 1990s. It has, however, quickly become a vital element of the Dutch economy, with sheep meat and wool being substantial exports.

In the Netherlands, there are presently approximately 700 commercial sheep farms, with a total flock of around 200,000 animals. These sheep farms are largely concentrated in Limburg’s southern province, where the climate is ideal for sheep herding. The Dutch sheep industry focuses on exporting high-quality meat and wool products.

Loans to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands

Sheep farming is a common type of agriculture in the Netherlands. Dutch farmers frequently borrow money to finance their sheep farms. There are numerous sorts of sheep farming loans available in the Netherlands. The most popular sort of loan is a business loan. Business loans can be used to fund the purchase of property, equipment, and other critical expenses.

A government grant is another sort of loan that Dutch farmers frequently use. Typically, government funding are offered for projects that benefit the environment or encourage sustainable agriculture. Sheep farming loans are available in the Netherlands through banks, credit unions, and other financial organisations. Farmers should, however, check interest rates and terms before selecting a lending company.

The Benefits of Sheep Farming

Sheep farming is a centuries-old practice in the Netherlands that helps both the country and its people. Sheep produce wool for clothes and other items, meat for human use, and milk for cheese production. They also contribute to the cleanliness of the area by grazing on grass and other vegetation. The Dutch sheep business is dominated by tiny family farms owned by husband-and-wife partnerships.

This approach allows farmers to have strong contact with their animals, resulting in better care and higher-quality goods. Sheep farming also allows for more sustainable land management. Sheep, when correctly managed, can improve the condition of the ground on which they graze by reducing soil erosion and enhancing biodiversity. Because of these causes, sheep farming is an essential aspect of the Dutch economy and culture. Furthermore, it is a traditional way of life that helps people who follow it.

Sheep Farming Problems

Several issues might arise in the sheep farming industry in the Netherlands. Disease, parasites, predation, and weather are examples of these.

  1. In the Netherlands, illness is a big issue for sheep producers. Sheep are susceptible to a variety of diseases, including foot rot, scab, and lice. Foot rot is a bacterial infection that causes lameness in sheep’s feet. A scab is an itchy skin ailment that causes hair loss and discomfort. Lice are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of sheep and can result in anaemia.
  2. Parasites are also an issue for Dutch sheep breeders. The most prevalent type of parasite that infects sheep is gastrointestinal worms. These worms can cause weight loss, diarrhoea, and anaemia in sheep.
  3. Another issue that can harm sheep ranching in the Netherlands is predation. In the Netherlands, foxes are the most prevalent predator of sheep. Cats, dogs, and birds of prey are examples of other predators.
  4. Weather is another aspect that might have an impact on sheep farming in the Netherlands. Sheep are especially susceptible to cold weather and snowstorms. Sheep may die as a result of exposure or malnutrition in extreme weather conditions.

Set Up Cost to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands

If you start a sheep farm from scratch in the Netherlands, the initial setup costs can be pretty significant. You will need to buy or lease land for your farm and construct proper sheep shelters. Land and construction costs will vary based on the size and location of your farm. While the initial expenditure can be substantial, the continuing costs are quite minimal once your farm is up and operating. A sheep farm can be a profitable business with good management.

A sheep farming set-up in the Netherlands costs between PKR 3,62,000 and PKR 4,82,500 on average. This entails purchasing sheep, fencing, and other necessities. Setting up a sheep farm in the Netherlands can be more expensive if you acquire organic sheep or use a different form of shelter than a classic Dutch barn.

The Challenges of Sheep Farming

1. The amount of Land Required for Grazing

Sheep require a lot of space to graze, yet land in the Netherlands is expensive and often scarce. Farmers must be inventive in how they use their land, and grazing is frequently supplemented with hay or other feed.

2. Dealing with Predators

Foxes and other predators can be an issue for Dutch sheep producers. As a result, farmers must use guard dogs or electric fences to protect their flocks.

3. Weather to Start Sheep Farming in the Netherlands

Extreme weather can occur in the Netherlands, ranging from hot summers to freezing winters. This can make keeping sheep comfortable and healthy a challenge. Farmers must therefore be prepared for all weather circumstances and understand how to care for their sheep.


Although there is a substantial wool sector in the Netherlands, sheep farming is mostly focused on meat production. Sheep farming is a relatively profitable sector in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture. Sheep farming has a long history in the country, and the business contributes significantly to the economy. The profitability of sheep farming has increased in recent years as demand for wool and other sheep products has increased.

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