Our Pastures

Great milk comes from lush pastures

Our temperate climate means New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where cows can graze on grass for most of the year, as nature intended 

Because our Fonterra New Zealand cows mainly eat grass, their milk has some unique benefits compared to milk from cows that receive large quantities of grains. 

New Zealand milk is typically richer in omega-3 fats, beta-carotene and a beneficial fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid or CLA, and tends to be higher in Vitamin E.

Our milk is high in CLA, a polyunsaturated fat

  • Milk from grass-fed cows contains a concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) two to three times higher than that found in the milk from grain-fed cows.
  • CLA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in milk fat. Evidence continues to indicate that CLA provides a wide range of potential health benefits. These include helping to regulate immune function, maintaining cardiovascular health, anti-inflammatory properties and supporting hormonal balance.

Beta-carotene is higher in milk from cows with pasture-rich diets

  • New Zealand butter is known for its natural golden colour - it’s a reflection of the higher beta-carotene content in New Zealand milk. Beta-carotene is found in milk from cows that have pasture-rich diets, such as New Zealand cows.
  • Most grains and fermented feeds contain minimal levels of beta-carotene because of heat damage and breakdown during storage.
  • As a result, the milk and milk products produced from fresh-pasture fed cows have a higher concentration of beta-carotene.
  • Beta-carotene is used to make vitamin A, which is essential for growth, prevention of infection, retina function and skin health. Beta-carotene also works as an antioxidant.

Higher levels of Vitamin D

  • With our sunny days and mild temperatures in New Zealand, Fonterra New Zealand cows spend 90 per cent of their time on average outside on pasture – that means a healthy dose of vitamin D. As a result, our cows produce milk with typically higher levels of vitamin D compared to cows which are often kept indoors.

Grass is a natural food source for cows and we’re experts at growing it.

  • High quality dairy products start with high quality grass. On average 85 per cent of our Fonterra New Zealand cows’ diet is grass, grass silage, hay and forage crops, which is grown on our farms*.
  • The mild New Zealand climate is ideal for growing high quality grass and as a country, we’ve invested years of research into improving grass – we’re even exporters of grass seed.
  • Our Fonterra Farm Source team and the New Zealand dairy industry have strong support networks of agronomists who support farmers in effective grass management.
  • Here in New Zealand we use some of the most advanced pasture-based farming systems in the world, enabling us to produce dairy products with less impact on natural resources.

To read our Fonterra statement that confirms that the facts presented are true and genuine to the best of our knowledge - click here.

Read more about Fonterra and GM

* Our Fonterra Grass Fed Standard requires no less than an annual minimum limit level of 75% as calculated across the Fonterra New Zealand Milk Pool.