An abnormally high number of twin calves born on Dutch dairy farms last year triggered a closer inspection by authorities. They found that more than 2,000 farms reported multiple births in 10 percent of cows or more. Another 5,700 farms recorded multiple births in 5 to 10 percent of cows in 2017. Normally, Dutch farms average 3 to 5 percent twins and multiple births.
As reported in AgriLand and the DutchNews.nl, farms were likely reporting multiple births in an attempt to keep cow numbers down. The country is under strict emissions rules implemented by the Dutch government. With these regulations, a milk cow represents one livestock unit; a heifer is only 0.5 livestock unit. By recording more multiple births, farms were able to keep some cows listed as heifers on paper for a longer period of time.
Following investigations by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, 2,100 Dutch dairy farms are suspected of fraud. The animals on these farms with uncertain status are in lockdown and cannot be transported from the premises until their correct registration is restored.
According to AgrilLand, farmers found guilty of lying about animals’ ages will be penalized through their CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) subsidy payments. Authorities are considering criminal investigations as well.