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Planned huge ‘dairy high-rise’ meets resistance officials

Feedlot for 12,000 animals

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

WITMARSUM, the Netherlands - This Frisian community has joined the growing number of municipalities rejecting development applications for so-called ‘cow flats.’ A group of agrarian investors is trying to get development permits from Northern Dutch communities for its multi-story barns housing between 10,000 and 12,000 cows.

Witmarsum authorities denied the application because the feedlot project did not meet the guidelines of its zoning plan. Preliminary drawings had called for a building taller than the huge assembly hall of local shipyard Amels. The proposed feedlot would be about twenty-seven times the size of Amels.

Actual work around such a feedlot would require trucks to deliver feed every half an hour and haul away milk and manure at the same rate.

Other municipalities recently shying away from the controversial proposal include Noordoostpolder, already a giant agrarian community. The initiators of the ‘dairy high-rises’ had taken their cues from entrepreneurs in the southern part of the country who are proposing similar multi-story facilities to house hogs, in a region where space increasingly is at a premium.

Precedent in New York

Animal high-rises existed a century ago in Manhattan, where space was limited as well. Around 1900, the island had a horse population of well over 100,000 and many of the animals used for transporation were housed in barns on the second and third floor of other establishments. The still existing Claremont Riding Academy in the Upper West Side is one such late 1800s building. It has hundreds of horse stalls above and below the ground-level ring. Claremont is the oldest continuously run riding stables in the United States and is operating in a four-story stone building. The stalls take up the basement and top three floors.