More cows, more milk produced

Otago now has 5% of the national dairy cow herd. Photo from ODT files.
Otago now has 5% of the national dairy cow herd. Photo from ODT files.
New Zealand's milk production leaped 11.3% last season, going down as the most productive on record.

The 2011-12 New Zealand dairy statistics report, released by Livestock Improvement Corp and DairyNZ, showed average production per cow reached a record 364kg of milksolids and more cows being milked resulted in dairy companies processing 19.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.69 billion kg ms in the year ended May.

Milk production per hectare of 1028kg surpassed the 1000kg mark for the first time. Favourable weather conditions were a major factor.

The milk production increase was the first double-digit increase since 2000-01, the report said.

Cow numbers milked increased by 105,500, or up 2.3%, to 4.6 million cows, while the total number of herds increased by 63, to 11,798, which was the fourth consecutive season of small increases.

Herds run under share-milking agreements eased to 34.2% (4034 herds) while, within that, 2218 herds were run as 50:50 agreements.

Average herd size was 393, up seven cows on the previous season, which was assisted by the expansion of the dairy herd in the South Island.

The national average herd size a decade ago was only 271 cows.

A quarter of all dairy cows were in the Waikato region, followed by North Canterbury (12%), Southland (11%) and Taranaki (10%). It was the first time Southland had surpassed Taranaki in cow numbers.

In Otago, which boasted 5% of the national dairy cow herd, there were 230,837 dairy cows with an average herd size of 579.

Those cows produced a total of 87,034,070kg ms, with an average of 218,131kg ms per herd.

The trend of increasingHolstein-Friesian/Jersey crossbred cows continued, with that breed comprising 41% of the national herd in 2011-12, while it was only 23% a decade ago.

Holstein-Friesian cows had declined from 54% in 2001-02 to 40% in 2011-12.

Dairy farm land prices had been relatively steady for the past two seasons. The weighted average sale price of dairy farms ($4.53 million) increased 8.7% in 2011-12, while the weighted average sale price per hectare of $32,123 was similar to the previous two seasons.


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