Fonterra Farm Insights Reports – a first for New Zealand farmers


Fonterra farmers are world leaders when it comes to care for animals and the environment. Individual Farm Insights Reports delivered to all farmers today provide an opportunity to build even more efficiency into their day to day farming operations and highlight sustainable farming practices.

This is the first time this amount of data and analysis has been made available in one report, giving farmers a comprehensive picture of their overall farm from an environmental performance and animal health perspective.

Michael Hide, Acting Director On-farm Excellence, says, “In 2020 we began using the data available to us to provide all our farmers with unique greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reports. We were the first dairy company in New Zealand to do this at scale. 

“In 2021 we’ve taken this a step further by offering individualised Farm Insights Report to farmers which are even broader, including more information on milk quality, sustainability and animal health.”

Farmers will receive insights on Somatic Cell Count, Milking Efficiency, Heat Stress, Lameness and Mastitis – as well as information on the farm’s performance under the Co-operative Difference Programme, a GHG report and a Nitrogen Risk Scorecard.

“Throughout the year we’re collecting information from our farmers that is used to meet regulatory and market access requirements, but it’s increasingly providing proof points to our customers of the care our farmers take for the environment and their herds. 

“Farmers put a lot of time and effort into recording data that provides really great evidence they’re producing milk in a way our customers want. Through the reports the Co-op is able to deliver some of that opportunity back to farmers.”

“The insights highlight opportunities for improvement and our field teams are able to use the data, and work alongside farmers, to suggest tweaks and changes to support animal health and potentially save on time and cost.”

Estimates using Insights data and DairyNZ calculators have found that around 90% of Fonterra farms have an opportunity to shorten milking times and 44% of farms could save one hour per day. 

In addition to labour savings, reducing time spent in the shed can also lead to better welfare outcomes for cows as extended milking periods are a known to contributor to mastitis.

Michael says, “Mastitis has a significant impact on animals and cost to farmers’ business through lost production and treatment. The insights show there is significant opportunity for farmers just by making some incremental changes to herd management. Our team can look at each farm’s data and provide expert guidance on potential for improvement.”


Small changes made a big difference on North Canterbury farm

North Canterbury farmer, Dave Hislop, and his team have recently benefited from the data insights and support from Fonterra’s field team after being one of the first farmers to test the offering a back in June. The focus was on the somatic cell count report.

“At Medbury Farm we do things a bit differently. We split our 1,240 cows into a couple of herds, an older herd and a younger herd, and run them through two rotary cow sheds.  Both sheds went grade free in June, but the somatic cell count meant the team didn’t achieve the highest level of the Co-operative Difference, Te Tihi.”

The team was pretty disappointed, so Dave got in touch with his Area Manager, Mike Hennessey, to see how they could address the high somatic cell count without changing the whole farming system.

“For us, the information was empowering. Brent Spencer (Fonterra Milk Quality Specialist) got involved and we made a few small changes – like stripping* the herd on a Monday morning if the somatic cell count was high. A lot of it was what we were already doing, but a lot more focus on colostrum management of cows.”

Dave said Farm Insights data was great for his farm manager Dennis Lagrosa and the supporting team. 

“If I have our people engaged in what they’re doing then it makes it easier to implement the plan. I always say it’s the people in the gumboots that make the difference.”


What’s in a Farm Insights Report:

The Farm Insights Report is designed to be informative and provide insights into areas such as Environment, Milk and Animals and provides benchmarking against similar farms within regions.

The report includes the below for each farm:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Profile
  • Nitrogen Risk Scorecard
  • Performance indicators for The Co-operative Difference
  • Milking efficiency report**
  • Somatic cell count report
  • Lameness report
  • Mastitis report
  • Heat stress risk report


*Stripping is the process of gently but firmly removing three to four streams of milk from each teat before milking.

**Farms with milk vat monitors (MVM) installed before the 20/21 season will receive the milking efficiency report this year. Other farms will receive the reports next season when their MVM data becomes available.


For further information contact:

Fonterra Communications
24-hour media line
Phone: +64 21 507 072