The number of dairy cattle dipped 2 percent from 6.6 million in June 2016 to 6.5 million in June 2017, Stats NZ said.
The provisional figures are from the 2017 agricultural production census. Final figures will be available in May 2018.
“From 2012, dairy cattle numbers have been relatively unchanged, after increasing over 20 percent or 1.2 million between 2007 and 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said.
Total dairy cattle were at their highest level in 2014 at 6.7 million.
Beef cattle numbers increased for the first time in over 10 years, from 3.5 million in 2016 to 3.6 million in 2017.
Total sheep numbers eased 1 percent to 27.4 million. New Zealand now has 5.7 sheep for every person, after peaking at 22 sheep for every person in 1982. The total area planted in apples increased 2 percent from 8,400 hectares in 2014 to 8,600 hectares in 2017.
During the same period, wine grape planting decreased 6 percent, from 33,800 hectares to 31,800 hectares.
More than 52,000 farmers provided information for the 2017 agricultural production census, which Stats NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries carry out every five years. Smaller surveys are run in the intervening years.
Source: Stats NZ