Cows enter world’s first floating dairy farm

The world’s first floating dairy farm has accepted its first cows.

Thirty-two animals recently arrived at the farm, based at the port at Rotterdam in The Netherlands.

And what a luxury farm it is, with robotic milking, a slurry robot, spacious cubicles, automatic belt feeder and a rubber walkway. A nearby field offers the cows a place for some green exercise if they feel up to it.

Although the farm is a working business that will sell milk to consumers via a vending machine, it has also been designed to be an educational tool to highlight the production path of milk.

The fresh milk will be sold, while the manure will be separated and re-used as an organic nutrient for Rotterdam’s plants, gardens and parks.

The designers of the floating farm have included floating solar panels to supply all of its energy needs. Rainwater is captured on the roof and then purified for drinking and most of the cattle feed comes from the city.

The menu for the cows consists of brewers’ grains, bran, potato scraps and grass from playing fields and golf courses in the city.

A farm based at a port in Rotterdam, the Netherlands now has 32 cows in a highly mechanized operation. | Chris McCullogh photo

The dairy products are for sale at the floating farm and will soon be stocked in certain stores around Rotterdam.

From the top floor of the floating farm, the cows have a view of what is still a busy port, but which is expected to be transformed into a residential and working area in 10 or 15 years.

Rotterdam is situated in a water-sensitive delta and has to cope with water discharge from the rivers, rising sea levels and heavier rainfall. Floating buildings offer one way to manage these problems. By building a floating farm, the developers say, food production can continue during flooding.

The concept was developed by Courage, an innovation institute of the Dutch agriculture and dairy sector; Uit Je Eigen Stad, a leading organization for city farming and Beladon, a leader in floating concepts.

The day to day running of the farm is the responsibility of 26-year-old Albert Boersen, the first floating dairy farmer in the world.

Boersen grew up with cows in the Friesland region of the Netherlands and studied agribusiness at university.

The floating farm is expected to cost the equivalent of about C$3.08 million.

Plans are now on the table for a floating chicken farm and a floating greenhouse.

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