Livestock

This section provides data on the number and density of livestock (sheep, dairy cattle, beef cattle, deer) in New Zealand. 

Livestock play an important role in the New Zealand economy. But poorly managed livestock production can have a major impact on the environment. 

Water contaminated with faecal matter from animals or humans can cause water-related illnesses (such as gastrointestinal illnesses).

On this page:

Livestock numbers drop from 2014 to 2015
Increase in dairy cattle numbers in some regions
Map of livestock numbers by territorial authority

Livestock numbers drop from 2014 to 2015

In 2015, there were 40 million livestock in New Zealand, including sheep, dairy cattle, beef cattle and deer.

From 2002 to 2015, the total number of livestock decreased by over one fifth in New Zealand. The number of sheep decreased from 39.6 million in 2002 to 29.1 million in 2015, a decrease of 26 percent. In contrast, the number of dairy cattle increased by 26 percent, from 5.2 million in 2002 to 6.5 million in 2015.

Between 2014 and 2015, the numbers of dairy cattle decreased by 0.2 million, the first decrease since 2005.

Figure 1
 

Increase in dairy cattle numbers in some regions

The number of dairy cattle increased substantially in the regions of Canterbury, Southland and Waikato from 2007 to 2012.

Figure 2

Map of livestock numbers by territorial authority

These maps present the number and density of livestock by territorial authority.

Livestock density gives an indication of the number of livestock per total land area. The measure does not account for amount of agricultural land, so should be interpreted with caution. 

Figure 3: Map of the number of livestock per square kilometre (total land area), 2012

Figure 4: Map of the number of dairy cattle per square kilometre (total land area), 2012

Information about the data

Livestock numbers

Source: Statistics New Zealand - New Zealand Annual Agricultural Production Surveys, and five-yearly Agricultural Production Censuses. For more information, visit the Statistics New Zealand Agricultural Production Statistics webpage