New Zealand's milk production leaped 11.3 per cent last season, the most productive on record.

The 2011-12 New Zealand dairy statistics report, released by LIC 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 of milksolids in the year ended May.

Milk production per hectare of 1028kg surpassed the 1000kg mark for the first time, with favourable weather conditions 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 per cent, 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.

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 was only 271 cows a decade ago.

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

- Otago Daily Times