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The New Zealand dairy industry contributes around 25% of NZ export earnings, and directly employs nearly 50,000 people. Massey’s expertise in dairy goes across our areas of speciality including animal and dairy production scientists, veterinarians and technicians. We provide expertise across a broad range of dairy system and dairy animal research projects.
Dairy cattle nutrition, growth, breeding and milk production
Our researchers have expertise in forage and grazing management including forage production, nutritive value and persistence. We are also working in the areas of genetics, cow feeding and nutrition including the impact of feeding on cow performance.
Dairy cow health and disease management
Our expertise is in all areas of dairy cow health with a particular emphasis on control, treatment and management of lameness; detection, identification and treatment of mastitis (with emphasis on reducing antibiotic use), impact, control and management of facial eczema; diagnosis and treatment of micronutrient deficiency, and calf diseases (especially the impact of colostrum uptake).
Dairy food technology
Massey scientists are examining the structure of dairy products with specific interests in cheese and casein. A research focus is fundamental studies on the internal structure of casein micelles in collaboration with industry and academic partners.
Expertise in the pharmacological control of the cow's oestrus cycle; the association between nutrition and reproduction and management and reproductive performance.
Milk quality and composition
A cross-disciplinary team of Massey scientists is researching milk quality, composition and health benefits for humans.
Quality control in manufacturing
Our scientists are developing new methods to assess quality in manufacturing processes. We have particular expertise in applications in the dairy industry.
Find programmes with a research element, including the PhD.
- Bachelor of Science with Honours (Animal Science)
- Master of Science (Animal Science)
- Master of Veterinary Medicine
- Master of Veterinary Science
- Master of Veterinary Studies
- Master of Veterinary Studies (Epidemiology)
- Master of Veterinary Studies (Veterinary Public Health)
Search for an expert
Search our staff database for an expert or area of expertise.
Antimicrobial resistant bacteria in dairy cattle
The development and transmission of bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a complex and multifaceted process. One of the main drivers identified for the development and spread of AMR is the use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine as well as for agricultural use.
A project led by Distinguished Professor Nigel French and Dr Sarah Burgess investigated this issue and developed recommendations on how to manage antimicrobial use in order to prevent bacteria in the gut of dairy cattle developing AMR.
Assessment of transport and transformation of nitrogen in the subsurface environment
Field measurements on Dairy 1 and lab experiments are being used to develop methods and procedures to assess and characterise the transport and transformation of nitrate-nitrogen in alluvial unsaturated and saturated (shallow groundwater) zones. With the results of this research farmers will be able to identify the capacity of their land to transport and transform nitrogen, and understand the soil and land use practises that will reduce the amount of nitrogen reaching waterways, while maintaining productivity.
Dairy shown to improve bone health of Kiwi children
Massey University research shows children drinking milk at school have greater increases in the size and strength of their bones, compared to children who are not involved in the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme.
Growing healthy heifers
This ongoing research is investigating the most efficient and effective way of raising dairy heifers to meet live weight targets. The aim of this research is to determine the effect of high and low milk treatment and a post- weaning diet of ryegrass or herb pastures on the growth rate of dairy heifers. The study is also collecting data on colostrum quality and parasites in calves.
Identifying cattle breed variation using tongue colour
This research built on previous projects to identify whether tongue colour could be a useful predictor of breed in Angus-cross-dairy and dairy-breed calves. While a Jersey calf is easy to identify, both the Angus-cross and Holstein-Friesian-Jersey calves may have a completely black coat, making it difficult to identify the breed of new-born calves.
Measuring the environmental footprint of milk
We undertook Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies of 53 pasture-based dairy farms in the Waikato region of New Zealand.
Using one litre of milk as the unit of analysis, we found that the environmental impacts of the more intensive dairy farms were significantly higher than the less intensive dairy farms. However, as expected, the more intensive dairy farms produced more milk per cow and per hectare. Thus there is a trade-off between production of more milk per hectare and increased environmental impacts per litre of milk.
This can be addressed through increasing pasture intake in order to reduce use of supplementary feeds, efficient use of fertilisers, and increased feed conversion efficiency in livestock.
On Massey's Dairy 1 farm we are researching a farm business that is kind to people, animals and environment. The farm is managed as a low-input, profitable and sustainable pasture-based dairy farm with a Once-a-Day milking, spring calving system. The farm is part of the Lower North Island Once-a-Day milking discussion group and the international Global Farm Platform.
Organic vs Conventional Dairy Systems Trial
The Organic / Conventional Dairy Systems Trial was set up in 2001 and run for 10 years.
The long-term aim of this trial was to better understand organic dairy farming systems by investigating component interactions in these systems, and by determining how impacts and interactions change over time as organic systems mature. The study was unique as it was the first comparative grassland-based open grazing dairy study in the world.
Supporting farming families during times of stress
Research from Massey University’s College of Health suggests health promotion campaigns could actually have a detrimental impact on some farmers during times of stress. The study focused on farming households within the Manawatū and Taranaki regions during the 2016 New Zealand dairy crisis. It identified that agricultural professionals, such as large animal veterinarians, farmers’ organisations and rural support workers, play an important role in supporting farmers through hard times.
AL Rae Centre for Genetics and Breeding
The Centre ensures sustained development and application of knowledge in quantitative genetics and breeding to enhance the profitability of New Zealand's primary industries.
Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management
We are dedicated to research that increases the farm business management capability of academics, farmers and those who serve them. The insights gained from in-depth research of challenges, solutions and available tools enhance the understanding of farm business decisions by government, industry, rural professionals and farmers.
Dairy Research Centre
This Centre consists of scientists, technicians and veterinarians with expertise across a broad range of dairy system and dairy animal research projects. We operate a commercial Farm Services Clinic. We also work with some other milk-producing animals including sheep and goats.
The Hopkirk Institute is a joint institute – scientists are from both AgResearch and Massey University. It has the southern hemisphere's largest concentration of health sciences for pastoral-fed animals.
Scientists collaborate on researching solutions for the sustainable control of parasitic diseases, primarily in sheep and cattle including:
- evaluating more effective vaccines to combat infectious disease, including tuberculosis, Johne's disease, mastitis and pneumonia
- identifying and predicting food poisoning threats in New Zealand and devising strategies to minimise their prevalence and impact.
Massey AgriFood Technology Partnership
The Partnership is focused on working with industry on research and development to provide relevant, leading-edge agricultural and horticultural technology. We have an active postgraduate student programme and provide site-specific consultancy.
Dairy 1 farm
Dairy 1 is managed as a profitable, low input, sustainable pasture-based dairy farm with a Once-a-Day (OAD) milking, spring calving system.
Research on the farm comes under the umbrella of 'Project Dairy 1' – research that focuses on the once-a-day seasonal supply low-input system in a sensitive nutrient zone.
Livestock production in New Zealand
The complete guide to the management of dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep, deer, goats, pigs, poultry, horses and working dogs in New Zealand. Written mainly by experts from Massey University’s School of Veterinary Science, it is of value and interest to everyone from students to farmers, right across New Zealand’s agribusiness sector. Edited by Kevin Stafford.
A printed 'yardstick', this tool was created to show the relationship between seasonality, the height and yield of herb pasture mixes in the field and whether stock should then be grazing, or not. The stick aims to assist farmers' understanding of the management of 'new' forage pasture types.
Accreditation and recognition
Global Farm Platform
Massey's Dairy 1 farm is part of the Global Farm Platform, an international group for optimisation of grazing livestock production systems.