Temporal trends in home-grown forage eaten on New Zealand dairy farms


  • Ryan Mills DairyNZ
  • Mark Neal DairyNZ




farm data, farm performance, pasture and crop eaten, quantiles


Pasture is the main source of feed on New Zealand dairy farms, having the benefit of a low cost of production, giving New Zealand’s dairy industry a competitive cost advantage in international markets. Previous literature indicates a plateau in forage grown and consumed on farm (referred to as pasture and crop eaten) over the last 20 years. Farm-level performance data over 14 years from DairyBase across Northland, Waikato, Canterbury and Otago were used to analyse the medium-term trends of pasture and crop eaten at the middle (median) and top (frontier) portions of the distributions of pasture and crop eaten. A performance metric was designed to compare the time trends between top-, average- and bottom-performing farms at the national level. The results were consistent with prior literature with no substantial evidence of an increasing trend in pasture and crop eaten across any region. Furthermore, the results showed that at a national level, top-performing farms were not improving on their pasture and crop eaten, while the average- and bottom-performing farms are improving slightly. The lack of a consistent positive trend is concerning for the dairy sector’s international competitiveness, making further research into new pastoral technologies and techniques paramount for maintaining New Zealand’s competitive position.






Resilient Pastures Symposium 2021