How Many Dairy Cows Are There in Australia? (2023 Statistics)


Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

The dairy industry is vitally important in Australia. In 2021, there were approximately 1.5 million dairy cows in Australia, representing an enormous resource. This large number of cows also presents considerable challenges for housing, feeding, and disposing of waste.

Most dairy cows are born and raised on specialized dairy farms where they can be milked under controlled and well-organized conditions. Typically, the cows are grazed on nearby land, although how much land and time they spend grazing can vary significantly from farm to farm.

The statistics below were gathered to give you a closer look at the number of dairy cows and the state of the dairy industry, how it impacts Australia, and how the demand for milk in Australia affects the industry.

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How Many Dairy Cows Are There in Australia? (2023 Statistics)

  1. There are approximately 1.65 million dairy cows in Australia.
  2. Nearly 1.4 million Australian dairy cows are Holstein cows.
  3. Australia’s dairy cows produced 8.8 billion liters (2.3 million gallons) of milk between 2018 and 2019.
  4. One Australian dairy cow can produce 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) of milk per year.
  5. Holstein, Jersey, and Aussie Red are the three most popular dairy cows in Australia.
  6. Milk production in Australia is forecast to decline by 2% in 2023.
  7. Approximately 46,200 people work in Australia’s dairy industry.
  8. Dairy farming is Australia’s 4th largest rural industry.
  9. Per capita consumption of milk in Australia is 106 liters.
  10. Australia is the 12th largest consumer of cow milk in the world.

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Australia’s Dairy Cow Population

1. There are approximately 1.65 million dairy cows in Australia.

(Dairy Australia)

As of 2021, approximately 1.65 million dairy cows were living and providing milk in Australia. For comparison, there are approximately 9.2 million dairy cows in the United States, and in the EU, there are 20.1 million. That makes Australia the country with the 13th-largest number of dairy cows, behind neighboring New Zealand.

herd of girolando cows
Image Credit: casa.da.photo, Shutterstock

2. Nearly 1.4 million Australian dairy cows are Holstein cows.

(Dairy Australia)

Holstein dairy cows are very popular worldwide, and the same can be said for Australia, where approximately 1.4 million of the 1.65 million in the country are Holsteins. Holstein cows produce more milk than every other breed of dairy cow, which is why they are prized worldwide. However, several other breeds are milked in Australia.

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Australia’s Annual Milk Production

3. Australia’s dairy cows produced 8.8 billion liters (2.3 million gallons) of milk between 2018 and 2019.

(Australian Government)

Between 2018 and 2019, the last full year on record, Australia’s dairy industry produced 8.8 million liters of milk, approximately 2.3 million gallons. That’s more than 1 cup of milk for every man, woman, and child that lives in Australia. It also puts Australia in the Top 20 milk-consuming countries worldwide.


4. One Australian Holstein dairy cow can produce 10,000 liters (2642 gallons) of milk per year.

(Dairy Australia)

A single Holstein cow in Australia can produce approximately 7 gallons of milk per day, which equals about 2,642 gallons (10,000 liters) annually. Most other breeds of cow produce 15% to 30% less milk but still need the same amount of care, feed, and equipment.

cow's milk production
Image Credit: Ehrecke, Pixabay

5. Holstein, Jersey, and Aussie Red are the three most popular dairy cows in Australia.

(Agri Farming)

According to Agri Farming, Australia’s three most popular dairy cows are the Holstein, Jersey, and Aussie Red. There are several others, but they make up only a tiny percentage after the top three breeds. Many of the country’s dairy cows are also specially bred with other breeds for different purposes.

new hoof dividerThe Number of Australians Working in the Dairy Industry

6. Approximately 46,200 people work in Australia’s dairy industry.

(Australian Dairy Farmers)

As of July 2020, over 40,000 Australians worked in the country’s dairy industry. They include farmers, farm workers, truck drivers, and other people and organizations involved in growing, feeding, and milking cows. As we’ll see in the next statistic, the industry affects rural communities much more than urban ones.


7. Dairy farming is Australia’s 4th largest rural industry.

(Australian Dairy Farmers)

In 2020 dairy farming in Australia was the country’s 4th largest rural industry, with over 5,000 dairy farms. There are dairy farms in all 6 Australian states and their internal territories. Approximately 1 in 12 Australians works in the dairy farming industry.

cow farm
Image Credit: RitaE, Pixabay

new hoof dividerAustralia’s Annual Milk Consumption

8. Per capita consumption of milk in Australia is 93 liters.

(IBIS World)

In 2021–2022, the per capita milk consumption was 93.5 liters per person, a fall of 1% over the previous year. This was partly because of the popularity of alternatives to milk like rice and oat milk. The decline was also partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and 2021.


9. Australia is the 12th largest consumer of cow milk in the world.

(Statista)

In 2022, Australia was the 12th largest consumer of cow milk in the world. During that time, Australians drank approximately 245,000 metric tons of milk, more than South Korea and Taiwan but less than India, the EU, the US, China, and Brazil, which are the top five milk-drinking countries.


10. Milk production in Australia is forecast to decline by 2% in 2023.

(FAS)

The Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States forecasts that the Australian dairy industry will decline by approximately 2% in 2023. This comes after falling 6% in 2022. One of the reasons for the decline is the shortage of labor after the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Another is a fall in demand as consumers purchase milk alternatives.

Cow milk_Pixabay
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

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FAQs

Is Sugar Added to Milk in Australia?

Milk from cows has a natural sugar called lactose in almost all milk products. Some non-dairy milk products add sugar, but cow milk does not typically have added sugar.

(Dairy.com)

sugar_jmexclusives_Pixabay
Image Credit: jmexclusives_Pixabay

What Is the Percentage of Milk Used for Milk Powder in Australia?

Approximately 6% of Australia’s dairy cow milk is converted into powdered milk.

(Dairy.com)

Does Australia Import Milk?

About 2% of the milk used in Australia is imported from other countries.

(Dairy.com)

dairy milk truck
Image Credit: Marylin GOFF_POIL, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

The dairy industry in Australia isn’t the biggest in the world, but it is nonetheless an important one. With approximately 1.65 million dairy cows, and over 46,000 people working in the industry, dairy farming is vital to Australia’s economy and one the country relies on perpetually. Australians drink more milk than all but 11 countries worldwide, and Holstein cows make up the majority of the country’s milkers.


Featured Image Credit: R-Mac Photography, Shutterstock



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