Cared for cows

Healthy cows help us make nutritious milk.
Our cows are part of the family, treated with care and kindness. Our cows live long healthy lives and are free to roam and graze on nutrient rich pasture . And it means they produce better milk too.

In New Zealand, we have low use of antibiotics in our dairy cows, and we have some of the lowest somatic cell counts in the world, giving us high quality milk. None of our cows are given hormones to produce extra milk - in fact, this practice is banned in New Zealand dairy farming.

While external animal welfare standards and certifications exist, not all are relevant to New Zealand’s pasture-based farming system. Our farming system means cows have access to outdoor pasture all year. Many welfare standards used overseas are designed for housed cattle and utilise assessment criteria which are simply not applicable or appropriate to assess our cows' wellbeing.

However, we believe that consumers and customers have the right to transparency on the meaning and value of animal welfare claims made on packaging, and that we should be accountable for having a reasonable validation process to support the claims that we make. We have therefore developed our Cared for Cows standard as a representation of how we approach animal wellbeing alongside our farmers.

The Cared for Cows Standard has been developed to formalise the process for assessing and managing animal wellbeing on farms supplying Fonterra New Zealand. The key driver is to proactively monitor animal welfare indicators on our farms so that farms at risk can be identified and the appropriate support provided.

The Cared for Cows Standard sets out the requirements for Fonterra’s management of Animal Health and Wellbeing on our farms.

The standard includes as a minimum:


  • A system for recording and measuring farm-level data provided by our farmers including but not limited to incidence of lameness, mortality, clinical mastitis, herd data, replacement rates, bulk somatic cell count and milk production data.
  • Validation of farm data by a third-party auditor.
  • A complaint follow-up process where issues identified by anyone internal or external to Fonterra, are addressed with urgency.
    If there are ever any Animal Health and Welfare issues identified on-farm through any method of identification, we have a clear process for ensuring that the animals receive immediate attention.
  • We recognise that cases of compromised animal health and welfare are often multifactorial and may have a human factor, so the processes that we have in place include support for our farming families.
Animal wellbeing

Cows are the heart of every dairy farm, and their health and welfare are of paramount importance to us. Outstanding animal husbandry is a source of pride for every farmer. 

We do not tolerate animal abuse. All animals must be treated with care and respect – its non-negotiable. 

Trusted Goodness™

From the natural way we farm, to nourishing our milk with world-class thinking and innovation in nutrition, we treasure every drop of milk. Trusted Goodness™ is our promise to deliver quality milk using our distinctive pastural-based approach to sustainable farming, which is independently certified.

What makes our milk so good... 

  • Non-GMO

  • Low carbon

  • Being a Co-op


Fonterra’s farmers are committed to healthy environments and farming naturally. Grass fed dairy naturally has a low footprint, harvesting rain and sunlight. Nothing we grow contains genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), it’s not in our nature. 

We currently have 42 products verified for the Non-GMO Project manufacture for sale into the North American market. We also have Non-GMO Project verification of our organic milk supply and associated manufacturing sites.

Caring for the Land - 37 secs

Low carbon

Each of our Fonterra farms is developing a plan to reduce emissions, and improve water quality and biodiversity. Today, our on-farm carbon footprint is among the lowest in the world.

At Fonterra, we’re proud of that, and will continue using science and best farming practices to reduce emissions for a low carbon future.

Our on Farm Carbon Footprint is one of the Lowest in the World - 37 secs

Being a Co-op

Fonterra is a co-operative, owned by farmer families who have shared their dairy know-how for generations. Today, our co-op partners with scientists, iwi, community groups and the New Zealand Department of Conservation to help bring real benefits to the environment. It’s this unique collective spirit that helps us make a difference.

Back in 2013, we started our 10-year Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation to work with iwi, councils and other experts in five catchments throughout New Zealand to find game-changing and scalable solutions that will help farming and freshwater ecosystems to thrive side by side.

We are a Co-operative Owned by Farmers - 37 secs