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Dairy cattle number exceeds 6 million

Dairy cattle number exceeds 6 million

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand increased to 6.2 million at 30 June 2011, Statistics New Zealand said today. This provisional result from the 2011 Agricultural Production Survey was up 260,000 on the number in 2010. The rise was attributed to increases in both the milking and replacement herds of about 130,000 each.

"This is the first time the number of dairy cattle in New Zealand has exceeded 6 million" agricultural statistics manager Hamish Hill said. "The dairy herd is now double the number it was 30 years ago."

The continued increase in the dairy cattle number in 2011 reflected higher payouts for milk solids. In 2011 there were 4.8 million cows in the national milking herd, up from 4.7 million in 2010. The dairy industry contributed $12.1 billion to New Zealand's exports in the year ended 30 June 2011.

This was 27 percent of the total products exported, compared with a contribution of 19 percent 30 years ago.

New Zealand’s national sheep flock number fell in 2011. At 31.1 million, this was down 4 percent from 2010. A reason for the fall was lamb losses due to bad weather. This included severe snow storms in the South Island during the 2010 spring. The lambing percentage for the year ended June 2011 was 116 percent, compared with 127 percent in the previous year. The lower number of lambs, together with increased culling of older sheep (due to higher sheep meat export prices in 2011), led to the fall in the national sheep flock.

This provisional release covers key livestock numbers, arable crops, horticulture, and forestry harvesting and planting. Final results, including detailed and regional statistics, will be available on 11 May 2012.

The 2011 Agricultural Production Survey is a sample survey of information from farmers and foresters, and includes selected farming practices, such as fertiliser application and cultivation practices. The survey was conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Geoff Bascand

Government Statistician 16 December 2011 END


Agricultural Production June Information PDF

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