And thanks to New Zealand’s fertile soil, abundant sunshine and temperate climate, our cows spend 97% of non-milking time grazing outdoors. That’s 350 days, which is more than anywhere else in the world. From grass, to hay, to forage crops, our cows enjoy a vast variety of nutritious plants in their diet.
The style of pasture-based farming practiced in New Zealand is unlike farming in most of the world. Our temperate climate provides great conditions for cows to live outdoors on pasture all day, year-round. In some parts of the country, cows may be housed over the winter months, but for the rest of the year they will be fully outdoors, only coming into the shed for milking.
The majority of our cows’ diet is composed of pasture grazed directly in the paddock, but some farms will store excess feed to give to animals at times of the year when grass growth is slower. On average our cows are on pasture around 350 days a year.
While all dairy milk contains a unique bundle of 10 essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, bio-available calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium and vitamins A, B2 and B12, our New Zealand grass-fed milk also contains higher levels of beta-carotene and the healthy fatty acid, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).
As a country, we know the importance of good grass for good milk. That’s why New Zealand has invested years of research into improving grass genetics, quality and how we grow it. The New Zealand dairy industry and Fonterra’s Farm Source team have a strong network of agronomists who support our farmers in effective grass management.
All feed grown in New Zealand for our cows is from plants that are not genetically modified. In New Zealand, there are strict laws against breeding and growing GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).