Canterbury Dairy Herd Rises as New Zealand Total Steadies

NEW ZEALAND - The number of dairy cattle in Canterbury is continuing to rise, bucking a national trend of stable figures, Stats NZ said today.
calendar icon 8 May 2018
clock icon 2 minute read

Final numbers from the 2017 Agricultural Production Census were released today.

The total dairy cattle count dipped 1 per cent from 6.62 million in June 2016 to 6.53 million in June 2017.

In Canterbury, dairy cattle numbers increased 3 per cent from 1.27 million in 2016 to 1.31 million in 2017.

"The national dairy cattle total has stabilised since 2012; however, we’ve seen Canterbury numbers rise 9 per cent over the same period," agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said.

The total amount of land irrigated for farming is increasing, with 747,000 hectares of farmland irrigated in 2017, up 7 per cent from 700,000 hectares in 2014.

Canterbury is the main area for irrigated land, accounting for 478,000 hectares in 2017, up 12 per cent from 429,000 hectares in 2014.

"Since 2014, an extra 49,000 hectares of Canterbury land has been irrigated – the equivalent of around 49,000 more rugby fields," Mr Pitts said.

"Over the same period of time, Canterbury has seen a large drop in arable farming, particularly of the grains grown for stock feed."

The amount of wheat and barley harvested in Canterbury dropped 19 per cent (14,000 hectares) from 2016 to 2017.

Beef cattle numbers are rising after a decade of decline. The total number of beef cattle increased 2 per cent from 3.53 million in 2016 to 3.62 million in 2017.

The national sheep flock showed little change between 2016 and 2017, easing from 27.58 million to 27.53 million.

More than 52,000 farmers provided information for the 2017 Agricultural Production Census, which Stats NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries carry out every five years. Smaller sample surveys are run in the intervening years.

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