NZ's dairy cattle population hits 6.6 million

Last updated 12:41 16/12/2013
Dairy cows
HANNAH McLEOD/Fairfax NZ
MORE AND MORE: New Zealand's dairy cattle numbers has hit 6.6 million.

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New Zealand's dairy cattle numbers continue to grow with latest figures putting the head count at 6.6 million.

Statistics New Zealand said today that the past year's increase continues a trend which started in 2006 and means there are now 1.5 dairy cattle for every New Zealander.

''Compared with recently released population census figures over the same seven-year period, the dairy cattle population has grown over five times faster," agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill said.

While the increase over the last survey year appears more modest than increases in the previous two survey years, longer-term growth has seen the dairy herd grow by about 27 per cent since 2006.

"If New Zealand's human population had increased at the same rate there would now be more than five million Kiwis," Mr Hill said.

Other livestock numbers showed slight declines in 2013, again continuing long-term trends seen in recent years. For example, the number of sheep fell 358,000 from 2012, with the national flock now standing at just under 31 million.

Most arable crops had good yields due to the long dry summer. The yield per hectare for wheat and barley both increased 4 per cent from 2012.

These provisional figures are from the 2013 Agricultural Production Survey, which was conducted in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

This release covers key livestock numbers, arable crops, and forestry harvesting and planting information. Final results, including more detailed commentary and regional statistics, will be available in May 2014.

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