Holstein-Friesian/Jersey crossbreed cows were the most common breed of dairy cow in the country. Farmers have been moving towards crossbred cows to combine the best traits from the two major dairy breeds. The Waikato and North Canterbury regions were the strongest in terms of dairy cow numbers. While dairy farming has historically been more dominant in the North Island, herd numbers in the South Island have been increasing. Most dairy companies in the country are farmer-based cooperatives, with Fonterra leading the pack.
The environmental challenges facing dairy farmers across the country have increasingly been highlighted by the public and environmental groups. Water quality degradation and greenhouse gas emissions due to dairy cattle farming are two of the biggest issues that have been debated. In response, the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was implemented in 2013 as a set of national good management practice benchmarks aimed at lifting environmental performance of dairy farms.