# 2 National dairy statistics

## 2.1 Industry statistics

### 2.1.1 Production

- Milk volume decreased and milksolids increased

In 2022/23, dairy companies processed 20.7 billion litres of milk containing 1.873 billion kilograms of milksolids compared to 1.863 billion kilograms processed in the previous season (Table 2.1). Since 2013/14 milksolids processed has been in the range of 1.8 to 1.9 billion kilograms.

**Note: **Prior to 1998/99, Table 2.1 consisted of milk production statistics that were processed into export products (i.e., town milk supply was excluded). These statistics on milk, milkfat, protein and milksolids processed were provided by the New Zealand Dairy Board and are no longer available. Consequently, totals from 1998/99 include all milk processed by New Zealand dairy companies, including milk for the domestic market.

### 2.1.2 Population

- Number of herds decreased
- Average herd size decreased

Between 1997-98 and 2007-08 total herd numbers declined at an average rate of about 300 herds per season (Graph 2.1), before levelling off. The rate of decline over the past five years has been about 193 herds per season. The total number of herds in the 2022/23 season decreased by 195 to 10,601

The average herd size was 441 in 2022/23, which was 8 cows fewer than the previous season. This is the first time that the average herd size has decreased since 2015/16. The average herd size has more than doubled in the last 30 seasons, and has increased by 139 cows in the last 20 seasons.

The total cow population in the 2022/23 season was 4.67 million (Table 2.2), a decrease of 3.46% from the previous season. The average farm size decreased slightly to 157 effective hectares. A stocking rate of 2.84 cows per hectare was a slight decrease on the previous season. Total effective hectares (milking platform with support block excluded) were 1.659 million – a decrease of about 42,000 ha (2.5%) on the previous season.

**Note: **

— Not available.

* Total effective hectares between 1981/82 and 1999/00 are estimates.

* Average effective hectares and average cows per hectare for 1981/82 to 1990/91 are based on factory supply herds only.

* The number of cows used to calculate the average herd size since 1992/93 includes all cows lactating in that season, whereas in earlier years the number of cows used to produce the average herd size was based only on those cows lactating on 31 December. This change in method has had a small effect on reported cow numbers

## 2.2 Herd production statistics

- Milksolids production per herd increased
- Milksolids production per cow and per effective hectare increased

Herd production has increased most years since 1992/93 (Table 2.3), with the exception of 1998/99, 2007/08, 2012/13, and last season (2021/22). The first three of these seasons were drought seasons. The average milksolids per effective hectare of 1,125 kg in 2022/23 incresed by 27 kg relative to the previous season, but 12 kg below the record high of 2020/21 (1,137 kg) making it the second highest average milksolids per hectare on record.

Milk production per cow increased by 7 kg compared to the previous season, with an average of 393 kg milksolids (comprising 221 kg milkfat and 173 kg protein).

**Note: **

— Not available.

* Values prior to 1991/92 exclude town milk herds.

* 1991/92 values include some town milk herds.

### 2.2.1 Production per cow and per hectare

Average milksolids per cow in 2022/23 was 393 kg, compared with 386 kg last season (Graph 2.2). Average milk production per hectare was 1,125 kg – 27 kg higher than last season. Seasonal production variations are considerable influenced by weather. For example, widespread drought in 2007/08 and 2012/13 caused milk production to decline while in 2013/14, favourable pasture growth conditions, coupled with increased supplementary feed use, enabled high milk production.

Average production per cow varies considerably from farm to farm. This variation is caused by many factors, including temperature, rainfall, soil fertility (which affects pasture growth), stocking rate, the genetic merit of the herd, level of supplementary feed and farm management practice. Graph 2.3 shows the distribution of milksolids production per cow in 2022/23 compared with the previous two seasons. Fifty-nine percent of herds recorded milksolids production between 300 and 450 kilograms per cow, while 25% of herds had an average production of over 450 kilograms milksolids per cow, compared with 20% in the previous season.

### 2.2.2 Herd size distribution

- 54.5% of herds have fewer than 400 cows
- 16% of herds have 700 or more cows

Averages of milkfat, protein and milksolids per cow, by herd size, are also included in Table 2.4.

In 2022/23, herd size distributions remained relatively similar to the previous season. Fifty-five percent of herds had fewer than 400 cows, 32% of herds had 500 or more cows, 14% had 750 or more cows, and 5% had 1,000 cows or more (Table 2.4).

The average milksolids per cow varied between 370 kg (herds with 100-149 cows) and 426 kg (herds with 850-899 cows).

The distribution of herd size presented in Graph 2.4 shows a decrease in the number of herds with less than 300 cows, and an increase in the number of herds with more than 300 cows, compared with ten seasons ago. The most common herd size remains in the range 200 to 249 cows (comprising 12.6% of herds in 2022/23, compared with 14.5% in 2012/13).