Animal welfare

Healthy, well-cared-for animals are vital to producing safe, high-quality milk.


Cows are the heart of every dairy farm, and their health and welfare are paramount importance to us.

While it may sound simple, cows are the absolute core of every dairy farm, and their health and welfare is of paramount importance to us. We know there is a close relationship between well-cared for cows and good milk production which is why animal husbandry is a source of pride for every farmer.

We are committed to managing animals responsibly and continuously improve animal health and welfare outcomes as well as eliminating practices that contravene the internationally recognised “Five Freedoms”.

If anyone identifies an animal welfare issue on a farm, New Zealand has an early response system set up with the Ministry for Primary Industries and DairyNZ to protect the animals.

In all regions, we build on existing animal welfare legislation and work with industry bodies while ensuring our practices are verified by the New Zealand Government. Our responsibility to animal welfare extends to wherever we operate in the world. We share our knowledge of best practice with other countries and assess the welfare of animals as part of our on-going quality checks in overseas markets.

The Animal Protection Index, which ranks 50 countries across the world on their animal welfare standards, places New Zealand (along with the United Kingdom, Austria, and Switzerland) in the first place.

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Animal welfare early response programme.

Healthy herds are essential to dairy productivity and we take the health and welfare of animals seriously:

  • When farmers require extra support, Fonterra engages trained Dairy New Zealand animal husbandry extension specialists and rural professionals to assist farmers through challenges that they may be facing with regard to animal welfare on farm.
  • While there are very few farms that come into this model, we find that most of those that do, have successful outcomes.
  • Fonterra seeks to provide the best support possible to its farmer suppliers around challenges that they may face.


Of the makeup of our cow’s diet is either grass, silage, hay or forage crops.
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