1 Introduction

1.1 Introduction

Kia ora and welcome to the 2022/23 edition of New Zealand Dairy Statistics

New Zealand Dairy Statistics is the annual census of the national dairy herd, providing the largest and most comprehensive range of statistical analyses on current, historic and emerging trends in the New Zealand dairy sector.

This report includes the latest milk production, herd improvement, animal evaluation and reproduction statistics with regional breakdowns.

Statistics from the 2022/23 season show Breeding Worth and Production Worth across all dairy cow breeds continue to increase, reflecting an ongoing focus by farmers to improve herd efficiency and production. The number of cows herd tested was the highest on record increasing by 2.8% from the previous season and the number of cows artificially inseminated also increased to 3.81 million - showing that farmers are continuing to explore options to increase the productivity of their herds. This work demonstrates part of what makes New Zealand dairy farmers world leaders in producing high performing and environmentally efficient cows.

New Zealand dairy farmers have continued to do great work during a year that has presented a variety of challenges. Many farmers have experienced the impacts of adverse weather conditions, rising input costs, and environmental policy and regulation changes. The 2022/23 season saw the second highest average dairy cooperative payout at $9.26 per kg milksolids, helping farmers to offset the impact of increased farm costs.

Farmers can be proud of their contribution to rural communities as they continue to add critical value to New Zealand’s economy. The work of dairy farmers and the sector to explore new solutions for herd productivity is also significant, and showcases our commitment to competitiveness on a global scale.

Campbell Parker
Chief Executive

David Chin
Chief Executive
Livestock Improvement Corporation

This report has been jointly produced by Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) and DairyNZ since 2006/07.

LIC is a farmer-owned co-operative and world leader in pasture based dairy genetics and herd management. LIC exists to deliver superior genetics and technological innovation to help its shareholders sustainably farm profitable animals.

DairyNZ is the industry organisation representing New Zealand’s dairy farmers, funded by farmers through a levy on milksolids.

Data is sourced from the LIC Herd Improvement Database, New Zealand dairy companies, Dairy Industry Good Animal Database, Animal Evaluation database, TB Free New Zealand, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, and Statistics New Zealand.

1.2 Executive Summary

This year’s report shows the number of cows herd tested as the highest on record, reflecting New Zealand dairy farmers ongoing commitment to improving herd productivity and efficiency.

The report also shows a slight increase in milksolids produced, despite challenges brought about by increased inflationary pressure and adverse weather conditions. The 2022/23 season saw the second highest average dairy cooperative payout from Fonterra and Tatua at $9.26 per kg milksolids, helping to offset the impact of increased costs on farm.

This year’s report shows more statistical movement than is usually expected in areas including national and regional milksolids production and business types. This is a result of changes in our reporting methodology to ensure our data remains consistent for future years and enables additional insights and analysis for New Zealand’s dairy sector.

1.2.1 Milk Production

In the 2022/23 season, dairy companies processed 20.7 billion litres of milk containing 1.87 billion kilograms of milksolids, a 0.4% (~74 million litres) decrease in litres and a 0.3% (~5 million kg) increase in kilograms of milksolids processed compared with the previous season.

Average milk production per cow was 393 kg of milksolids (made up of 221 kg milkfat and 173 kg protein), a 1.8% increase from 386 kg last season. Average milksolids per effective hectare (1,125 kg) also increased and was near 2020/21 levels.

1.2.2 Cow Numbers

Cow numbers decreased.

Cow numbers have continued to decline in recent years. The total cow population in 2022/23 was 4.67 million, a decrease of 3.46% from the previous season.

1.2.3 Number of Dairy Herds and Herd Size

The average herd size and number of herds decreased

There were 10,601 herds this season – 195 fewer than the previous season. The national average herd size was 441, which was eight cows lower than the previous season.

1.2.4 Herd Improvement Herd testing - know your cows

The number of cows being herd tested was the highest on record.

Herd testing enables farmers to collect information about individual cows in their herds – this includes information on milk production, milksolid makeup and somatic cell count, as an indicator of mastitis. The information gained from herd testing is used for effective herd management, monitoring and improving cow wellbeing and on-farm decision making.

Herd testing data is also used (alongside other animal data) to inform animal evaluation. These are the critical evaluations that help farmers identify the best animals for breeding, which lifts the performance of their herds.

A total of 3.79 million cows were herd tested in 2022/23 – a 2.8% increase from the previous season and the highest on record. That equates to 81.1% of cows in the national herd being herd tested in 2022/23. The percentage of total herds herd-tested (76.3%) was the highest of the last 17 seasons. Artificial breeding (AB) – creating genetic and productive gain through the next generation

The number of cows mated to AB has increased

There was 3.808 million cows mated to AB in 2022/23. The percentage of cows mated to AB was 82.0%, which was higher than the previous season (81.4%), and similar to 2017/18 levels.

1.2.5 Cow Breed

Almost 60% of cows are Holstein-Friesian/Jersey crossbreed.

Farmers are increasingly shifting to crossbred cows to benefit from the efficiencies of hybrid vigour and get the best traits from the two main dairy breeds. In total, 59.9% of cows were Holstein-Friesian/Jersey crossbreed, a 0.7% increase from the previous season, followed by Holstein-Friesian cows and Jersey cows, with 24.4% and 7.6% of all cows, respectively.

1.2.6 Milk Prices

$9.26 was the average dairy co-operative payout.

The average dairy co-operative payout of $9.26 per kg milksolids in 2022/23 was lower than the previous season ($9.52) and the second highest average payout on record.