In France, dairy cows consume about 15,612,649 to 23,840,814 metric tons per year, while beef cattle consume about 13,244,897 to 19,867,345 metric tons per year. Horses consume about 2,086,071 to 2,781,428 metric tons per year, in France, while sheep and goats consume 576,152 to 860,918 metric tons per year. Lastly, hay eating pets (primarily small mammals) likely consume less than 60,781 metric tons per year. A deep dive of these findings and the research strategies involved have been presented below. Likewise, this data has been added to Row 8, Columns AI-AM of the attached spreadsheet.
- Dairy Cows: There are 3.6 million dairy cows in France. A dairy cow will typically eat around 30-40 lbs of hay per day (or, 10,950 lbs to 14,600 lbs per year). This means that among total dairy cows in France, about 34.42 billion lbs to 52.56 billion lbs are consumed per year (or, 3.6 million x 10,950 and 3.6 million x 14,600). This equates to roughly 15,612,649 to 23,840,814 metric tons.
- Beef Cattle: France has over 4 million suckler cows (i.e. cows that are kept for the production of beef). A beef cow will typically eat somewhere around 20-30 lbs of hay per day depending on its size and hay moisture (or, 7,300 lbs to 10,950 lbs per year). This means that among total beef cattle in France, about 29.2 billion to 43.8 billion lbs of hay are consumed per year (or, 4 million x 7,300 and 4 million x 10,950). This equates to roughly 13,244,897 to 19,867,345 metric tons.
- Horses: There are around 840,000 horses in France. A horse will typically eat between 15 and 20 lbs of hay per day (or, 5,475 lbs to 7,300 lbs per year). This means that among total horses in France, about 4.599 billion to 6.132 billion lbs of hay are consumer per year (or, 840,000 x 5,475 and 840,000 x 7,300). This equates to roughly 2,086,071 to 2,781,428 metric tons.
Sheep and Goats
- Sheep: There are 1.2 million sheep in France. Sheep will eat around 1.5 lbs of hay per day (or, 547.5 lbs per year). This means that among total sheep in France, about 657 million lbs of hay are consumed per year (or, 1.2 million x 547.5). This equates to roughly 298,010 metric tons.
- Goats: There are 850,000 goats in France. Goats will eat around 2-4 lbs of hay per day (or, 730 lbs to 1,460 lbs per year). This means that among total goats in France, about 613.2 million to 1.241 billion lbs of hay are consumed per year (or, 850,000 x 730 and 850,000 x 1,460). This equates to roughly 278,142 to 562,908 metric tons.
- For sheep and goats total, this equates to around 576,152 to 860,918 metric tons (or, 298,010 + 278,142 and 298,010 + 562,908).
- Small mammals as pets (e.g. rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils): There are 3.4 million small mammal pets in France. A typical 5 lb rabbit will eat about 8lbs of hay per month (about 0.26 lbs per day, or 4.16 oz). Guinea pigs eat at least 1 oz of hay per day. Hamsters and gerbils may eat hay, but will typically only consume small amounts at their leisure (overall less than 12 grams of all foods per day, or 0.035 oz). The overall calculated average across these small mammal types is then 1.73 oz of hay per day (or, 631.45 oz per year). This means that among small mammal pets in France, somewhere in the ballpark of 2.147 billion oz of hay are consumed per year (or, about 3.4 million x 631.45). In pounds, this equates to about 134 million lbs. This equates to roughly (likely less than) 60,781 metric tons.
After exhaustive research, it was determined that the amount of hay consumed by various animal species in France does not appear to be directly and publicly available. This was determined after research was conducted through market and industry reports. Overall, this data is severely lacking, likely due to the variance with which these animals eat hay and the highly fragmented nature of this data (for example, farmers probably keep track of their own livestock's hay consumption levels, but these levels are not really being reported or compiled anywhere as a total across all farmers, and it's likely very difficult to track end-use of hay bales by animal type at the country level for the same reasons, etc). Despite this, we were able to triangulate some estimates by first determining how many of the animals exist within the country and then conducting research to determine how much hay one of the animals eats per year, and then multiplying. It should be noted that during this process, it was determined that the amount of hay eaten per animal can vary based on things like the animal's size, hay conditions and quality, weather conditions, whether the animal is pregnant or nursing, whether the animal is being milked, etc. It was not possible to take all of these variables into account for these high level estimates, therefore, only ballpark figures have been provided. Likewise, for the pets category, it was determined that 'pet' is a subjective term and there are any number of animals that eat hay which may or may not be considered a pet based on the owner's preference and relationship to the animal (e.g. pigs). To simplify these obstacles, our team choose to focus on small mammals kept as pets, as this data was most readily available and it is logically believed that these are the most commonly kept hay eating pets due to their convenience (e.g. rabbits, guinea pigs etc). Initially, we attempted to break all the data down by individual pet type, but it was found that the total number of all relevant animal types being kept as pets in France was not readily available (e.g. total number of rabbits, total number of hamsters, etc), however, a total figure for small mammal pets was found which was used in lieu of this. Additionally, it was determined that not all small mammal pets are consuming the same amount of hay equally, which posed another obstacle. Therefore, we calculated the average amount of hay such animals would eat overall by analyzing the hay consumption levels by species and multiplied this by the total small mammal pet figure. Please note that the result of this estimate is very rough due to all the numerous stated variables which may affect it. For example, some of the 3.4 million small mammal pets are likely not consuming any hay at all, as the research conducted reported, for example, that not all hamsters like hay so some don't eat it. Likewise, the 3.4 million small mammal pets figure was not clear on which exact species were included in this figure etc. Therefore, the estimate for the pets category is likely a higher-end estimate and the true number is likely less than this, possibly significantly less. However, we feel this is likely the best estimate that can be arrived at given the overall lack of data and complexity of variables involved. Please note that conversion calculators were used for some of these calculations, such as converting pounds to metric tons, etc.