The initiative opened on Monday, with some 40,000 animals put forward for slaughter. The majority of these were put forward within the first 24 hours of the process opening.

Martijn Van Dam is the Dutch agriculture minister and has earmarked €12m in compensation for farmers to cull the initial tranche of cows.

Due to the volume of cows put forward for slaughter, farmers will now have to draw lots to see which cows are taken out of the system in this round. Further rounds will open in the coming weeks.

The Dutch dairy herd will have to be cut by 60,000 cows, or 3% of the total herd, for the country to meet European environmental limits on phosphate production. Since milk production quotas were abolished in 2015, Dutch milk supply has increased rapidly with the national dairy herd expanding to 1.6m head.

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