New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2009/10

The New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2009/10 document, released on Dec 6th 2010 by LIC (Livestock Improvement Corporation) and DairyNZ, shows that the highest average production per dairy herd (280,935 kilograms of milksolids), per hectare (1283kg) and per cow (384kg) were recorded in North Canterbury.

South Island farms have, on average, more than twice the per herd production than average herds in the North Island, reflecting a combination of larger herd sizes, a higher stocking rate, and high kilograms of milksolids per cow. In the North Island, Hawkes Bay recorded the highest average herd production of 198,202 kilograms of milksolids.

Nationally there was a 3.3 percent increase in milksolids processed – 16.5 billion litres of milk containing 1.44 billion kilograms of milksolids compared to 1.39 billion kilograms processed in the previous season. The South Island now accounts for 39.3% of total milksolids produced.

Since 1979/80 total herd numbers have declined at an average rate of 160 herds per year. However, bucking the trend for the second consecutive year, the total number of herds in the 2009/10 season increased by 73 (to 11,691).

The average herd size continues to increase, herd sizes in 2009/10 grew on average by 10 cows, bringing the national herd average to 376. The average herd size has tripled in the last 30 years and increased by more than 100 cows in the last eight years.

The widespread drought in 2008/09 caused milk production to decline, and the flow-on effect was average milksolids per effective hectare in 2009/10 (912 kg) down 1.0 percent on the previous season. Production per cow decreased by 1.5 percent in 2009/10 to an average of 318kg milksolids.

The economic down turn has hit farm sales hard. The number of farms sold dropped dramatically, as did the average sale price, 19 percent lower to $2.6 million, and down 10% to $31, 323 per hectare.

Data for the New Zealand Dairy Statistics is sourced from the LIC National Database, dairy companies, Animal Evaluation database, Animal Health Board Annual Report, Quotable Value New Zealand Rural; Property Sales Statistics and Statistics New Zealand.

New Zealand Dairy Statistics is available online, at no charge, at, or at

Summary of figures released in the LIC and DairyNZ produced New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2009/10 -

  • Nationally there was a slight increase in the number of herds. The total number of herds in the 2009/10 season increased by 73 (to 11,691).
  • Consistent with the trend for the past 30 seasons, the average herd size increased to 376, an increase of 10 on the previous season. The average herd size has tripled in the last 30 years, and has increased by more than 100 cows in the last eight years.
  • Nationally the number of cows in New Zealand has increased 3.4% over the previous season to 4.4 million.
  • Half of all herds have 300 or more cows, a little under 15% have between 200 and 249 cows, 56% have between 100 and 349 cows. In 2009/10 49% (5762) of herds had 300 cows or more, 2444 (21%) had 500 or more cows and 400 (3%) has over 1,000 cows.
  • The majority of dairy herds are located in the North Island (77%). The greatest concentration of herds is in the Waikato region (31%).
  • Although South Island dairy herds account for a little less than one-quarter of the national total, they contain over one third of all cows.
  • There are more than 1.5 million cows in the South Island and the South Island average herd sizes are increasing faster than the North Island.
  • The highest average production per herd, and per hectare was recorded in North Canterbury at 280,935 kilograms of milksolids.
  • There are now 11,691 dairy herds in New Zealand.
  • Holstein Friesian and crossbred cows show highest milksolids (Kg) production (herd test statistics).
  • In the 2009/2010 season 3.15 million cows were mated to artificial breeding.

The national increase has been attributed to the increase in cows being milked. The milking cow population in New Zealand has now surpassed the country’s human population – 4.4 million cows (an increase of 144,000) compared to 4.39 million New Zealanders.

(From a press release by LIC on Dec 6, 2010)


Monica Wadsworth

Monica Wadsworth
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