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Dairy herd up – an extra 370 bottles of milk each

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand continues to surge, and is up by more than a million since 2007, Statistics New Zealand says.

At 6.5 million, there are 1.2 million more dairy cattle in 2012 than in 2007.

"Dairy numbers have been booming in the last five years. The extra production equates to about 370 2-litre bottles of milk a year for everyone in the country," agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill says.

These provisional numbers are from the latest five-yearly agricultural production census.

"There have been some real changes in the balance of agriculture in New Zealand since the last census. Dairy's obviously been a big mover, and the sheep number has fallen.

Kiwifruit has been holding steady despite the adverse effects of Psa disease," Mr Hill says.

In 2007, there were nine sheep for every New Zealander, but in 2012 this had dropped to seven. The current sheep flock is 31.2 million.

"The New Zealand wine sector has experienced phenomenal growth over the last 30 years despite a more-recent slow-down.

The area planted in wine grapes in 2012 is more than six times the area planted in 1982, an increase the size of Great Barrier Island," Mr Hill said. The wine industry has grown from having 5,280 hectares planted in wine grapes in 1982 to just over 34,020 hectares in 2012.

The agricultural production census involved farmers, horticulturists, and foresters in New Zealand and was conducted in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries.