Mastitis support programme

The Mastitis support programme seeks to identify, prevent and manage the cause of mastitis in our suppliers’ herds

  • Since August 2011 we have partnered with accredited veterinarians overseen by the National Mastitis Advisory Committee, to implement the Mastitis Support Programme.


  • A rapid response process was established, including early intervention and management of mastitis.


  • Identifying and managing mastitis is part of our commitment to the Five Freedoms.
  • While very few farmers now require this assistance, it has proven to be very effective at reducing mastitis and thereby reducing somatic cells counts.


  • We currently use high somatic cell counts in herds as an indicator of mastitis. Our routine testing of milk collected allows us to promptly identify farmers requiring assistance and we rapidly support those farmers and work with them one-on-one to develop an action plan.
  • We monitor the problem and ensure farmers have as much help as required to identify the root causes and take steps to control the situation.

    Along with the long lifespan relative to most international dairy industries, New Zealand also has a low bulk milk somatic cell count. Low levels of somatic cell count is strong evidence that good animal welfare is being achieved through sound management of animals.

    We have seen a significant downward trend for somatic cell counts since 2008-9 with 187,000 cells/ml achieved in 2016 for the New Zealand national herd and Fonterra average being only 176,000 cells/ml.

    Table: Trend in the New Zealand national herd test averages for the last 5 seasons


    Somatic cell count (000cells/millilitre)
    2011/12204
    2012/13204
    2013/14187
    2014/15182
    2015/16187

2017 Fonterra Co-operative Group