Dairy 4 - innovation in large scale dairying

Dairy 4 is the largest of the two dairy farms owned by Massey University. 

It is managed as a profitable, large scale, commercial seasonal supply dairy farm. It is used primarily to study the problems inherent to large-scale dairying and to provide a teaching resource for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Its facilities are also used for research and extension into innovative pastoral dairy technology systems.

Dairy 4 Farm platform

  • Area – 250 hectares
  • Soils – Predominately Tokomaru Silt Loam. Compact clay loams with compact subsoil, poor natural drainage and with a tendancy to dry out in summer. Moderate natural fertility. Some Ohakea Silt Loam soils
  • Cows – 647 cows. Heifer calves, yearling heifers. Cows wintered off (250 cows for six weeks)
  • Forage –predominantly perennial ryegrass/white clover species
  • Paddocks – 98 x 2.3 hectare paddocks, all with race access. 23 other paddocks in 1 hectare plots for research
  • Infrastructure – 200 cow capacity Freestall Barn. 50 bale rotary cowshed equipped with De Laval alpro system (electronic identification, milk yield, sampling, drafting, in-shed feeding). Two concrete feeding pads with 300 and 150 cow capacities

Research on Dairy 4 – Pastoral 21

The project on Dairy 4 is developing a practical housing system for dairy farm cows, suitable for lower North Island region conditions. It aims to combine high production and profit with lower nitrate and phosphorous leaching.

Two dairy systems are being monitored, one with cows housed part-time in the barn (2.8 cows/ha). This is compared to a more typical management system with a herd grazed-off in winter and a feed pad used on wet days in spring and winter (2.8 cows/ha).

The Pastoral 21 project is a collaborative research consortium working to increase on-farm productivity and profitability, while reducing the environmental footprint. It is funded by DairyNZ, Beef+LambNZ, Fonterra, DCANZ, and MBIE. Other research providers involved in this programme are AgResearch, Plant & Food Research and Lincoln University.



Dairy 4 history

Dairy 4 landscape with hills in background

Massey University purchased the property of W.J. Brogden (111.3 ha) in April 1973, and the property of L.L. Lovelock (50.6 ha) later that year.  The two properties were amalgamated and developed for a large seasonal supply dairy farm. In 1988, the adjoining property of G.W. Perry (58.24 ha) was added.  

In early 2012, half the DCRU (Dairy Cattle Research Unit) grazing platform joined Dairy 4, and the remainder of the DCRU land (then organic) was dissolved into the Dairy 4 grazing area in early 2013. 


Dairy 4 (formerly No.4 Dairy Farm) is located adjacent to the Massey University campus, approximately 5km from Palmerston North City.

The farm is subdivided into approximately 98 x 2.3 hectare paddocks all with race access, plus a further 23 paddocks that are in 1 ha plots for research. 

(click map to enlarge or download as pdf below)

Dairy 4 map.pdf (492 KB)

Dairy 4 Farm management

Dairy 4 is managed by Hamish Doohan.

Email Hamish


Danny Donaghy is the scientist-in-residence managing research projects on Dairy 4.

Email Danny

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