December 7, 2011


New Zealand's dairy cow population soars


Resident human population has been outnumbered by dairy cow population in New Zealand which is increasing at a greater rate, according to the New Zealand Dairy statistics for 2010-11.


Released on Friday by LIC and DairyNZ, the document is made up of statistics 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.


In 2010-11, the total number of NZ dairy cows increased by 132,000 to just over 4.5 million cows (4,528,736), an increase of 3% over the previous 2009-10 season - whereas the resident human population (at March 31, 2011) increased by an estimated 0.9% to 4,403,000.


Along with the growth in cow numbers it was also a record year for the average production per cow in the country - up 5% - to an average of 334 kilogrammes of milk solids (comprising 190 kilogrammes milk fat and 144 kilogrammes protein) per cow.


In 2010-11, dairy companies processed 17.3 billion litres of milk with the total milk solids processed increasing from 1.44 billion kilogrammes in 2009-10 to 1.51 billion kilogrammes.


The increase in milk processed is being attributed to a combination of more cows milked plus an increase in production per cow, following an exceptionally good 2011 autumn for dairying.


The highest average production per dairy herd (285,412 kilogrammes of milk solids), per hectare (1,249 kilogrammes) and per cow (377 kilogrammes) were recorded in North Canterbury.


Taranaki had the highest average milk solids per cow (334 kilogrammes) in the North Island, followed by Manawatu (326 kilogrammes) and Waikato (324 kilogrammes).


South Island farms have, on average, higher per herd production than herds in the North Island, reflecting a combination of larger herd sizes, a high stocking rate, and high kilogrammes of milk solids per cow. In the North Island, Hawke's Bay recorded the highest average herd production of 204,462 kilogrammes of milk solids.


For the third consecutive year the total number of herds increased (by 44 to 11,735) and the average herd size (386) increased by 10 cows - a trend consistent over the past 30 seasons during which the average herd size has more than tripled and has increased by more than 100 cows in the last eight seasons.

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