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Ökologischer Betrieb
© BLE, Bonn/Thomas Stephan
Ökologischer Betrieb
Institute of

BW Farm Economics


How can dairy farms develop in future?

Dairy barn
© Thünen-Institut/Hauke Tergast
Dairy barn

Comparative analysis of different development paths for dairy farms in Northwest Germany

Dairy farming is the branch of agriculture with the highest turnover in Germany and has been undergoing change for years. The Northwest German coastal region contributes a large share of national milk production. The project aims to provide information on how dairy farms in this region can develop in the future. Applying a mix of socio-economic methods, different development paths will be analysed in order to show farmers, politicians and other stakeholders different possibilities for future farm development.

Background and Objective

With an above-average proportion of grassland, the coastal region in Northwest Germany form one of the most important dairy regions in Germany. Grassland provides an optimal feed basis for milk production and at the same time rarely allows other cost-covering uses than fodder production. This also reflects the development in the past. While the number of dairy cows has declined in many regions of Germany in recent years, the number of cows and the quantity of milk in this region has increased continuously. At the same time the number of farms has decreased, so that the farms have grown in average. Challenges such as volatile milk prices, high land prices and changing social demands on the production of animal products are additional drivers of structural change. In the past, many farms have responded to these challenges with further growth steps. In the course of the project, in addition to this "classical" business development strategy, further possibilities for further business development will be analysed.

The aim of the project is therefore to identify possibilities for these further development options, to plan them in detail and then to analyse them economically.


  1. Analysis of the dairy farms located in Northwest Germany using the available statistical data
  2. Creation of a typical dairy farm for the region, supported by focus group discussions
  3. Identification and analysis of different business development strategies
  4. Planning and analysis of the development strategies for the typical farm together with the focus group
  5. Evaluation of development strategies under different scenarios

Data and Methods

The study uses a mix of socio-economic methods consisting of focus group discussions with farmers and consultants, case studies, cluster analysis and modelling. The agricultural structure survey, other surveys such as regional statistics, expert discussions and the focus group discussions are used as a data basis.


10.2018 - 6.2023

More Information

Project status: ongoing

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