What makes New Zealand milk so good?

New Zealand’s pasture-fed cows produce some of the best milk in the world... here’s why!

01 Jun 2021

3 min

#Blog #All Categories #New Zealand

New Zealand's grass-fed cows produce some of the world's best quality milk.

The quality of the milk cows produce is directly related to their diet and environment. So it’s no wonder that New Zealand’s pasture-fed cows, feasting on our lush green grass, produce some of the best milk in the world.

And it’s this milk, full of natural goodness, that we’re proud to take to the world as the leading global dairy exporter.

Thanks to New Zealand’s temperate climate, cows here can graze outdoors all year round. And being predominately grass-fed (rather than grain fed) their milk is richer in omega-3 fats, beta-carotenes and CLA (that’s a beneficial fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid).

These important nutrients, along with our rigorous testing and quality standards, enable us to meet the highest customer expectations.

But let’s dig a little deeper to discover what’s behind each of these elements and why they’re so important.


New Zealand's pasture-fed cows produce milk with more balanced fatty acids.

The benefits of essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are well known. But what’s also important is the balance of these fatty acids. And new evidence suggests that a  balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (e.g. 50/50) is important for human health1. As you’ll see, pasture-fed cows (like the ones here in New Zealand) produce a preferable balance compared to those fed a higher proportion of grains.


The more grass in a cow’s diet, the higher the quality of the milk in terms of its polyunsaturated fatty acid composition2.


New Zealand's pasture-raised cows produce milk with more beneficial CLA.

Emerging evidence has shown some exciting positive health benefits of CLA (a beneficial fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid), including potential anti-inflammatory properties2.

Further detailed research is ongoing, but right now it’s reassuring to know that pasture-raised cows have a greater concentration of CLA in their milk (up to twice as much) compared to grain-fed cows3.

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New Zealand's milk products contain high concentrations of beta-carotene.

If you’ve ever wondered why your New Zealand butter has a beautiful natural golden colour, it’s all down to the beta-carotene. 

Beta-carotene is a precursor for vitamin A (which means it’s able to be converted to the active form of vitamin A). Vitamin A is an essential antioxidant and we need it for healthy skin and mucus membranes, our immune system, and vision.

Beta-carotene is found in substantial amounts in some fresh plant food, like grass. So milk products from pasture-fed cows may have a higher concentration of this nutrient2,4,5. Another reason why New Zealand cows produce the some of the best milk in the world.


Want to find out more about our New Zealand dairy expertise?

Grass is a natural food source for cows – and New Zealand is an ideal place to grow it. Find out more about our natural advantages and how you can use them to benefit your business.


Discover how you can leverage New Zealand's natural advantages to benefit your business

  • [1] Candela G., Lopez B., Kohen L. Importance of a balanced omega 6/omega-3 ratio for the maintenance of health. Nutritional recommendations. Nutr Hosp. 2011;26(2):323-329.
  • [2] Clancy K. Greener Pastures. How grass-fed beef and milk contribute to healthy eating. Union of Concerned Scientists. 2006.
  • [3] Dhiman T R., Anand GR.. et al. Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets. J Dairy Sci 1999;82(10):2146-56.
  • [4] Jensen, S. K. Quantitative secretion and maximal secretion capacity of retinol, beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol into cows' milk. J Dairy Res. 1999; 66(4):511-22.
  • [5] Searles, SK et al, "Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and Carotene Contents of Alberta Butter." Journal of Dairy Science, 1969; 53(2) 150-154.

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