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Insta famous in the dairy field

Insta famous in the dairy field

When West Coast dairy farmer Chloe Payne started an Instagram page to share photos of cows in 2016, she never thought it would gain traction.

Eight years and 325,000 followers later, her Cows of New Zealand page is one of the most followed rural pages on the platform.

"I had always taken so many photos of cows," Payne says.

"I made an Instagram page hoping to find a couple of people who enjoyed seeing cows; I never thought it would become this big."

The page gained around 50,000 followers between 2016-2023, which Payne said she was happy with.

Since then, though, several images have gone viral, boosting her following by 270,000 followers in the last year.

"The reason I believe I have so many followers is because my photos really show the cows' personalities.

"This allows people to get to know the cows as individuals and want to follow their journey.” “My cow Popcorn was the first cow to go viral in 2018."

"She still has people following her today who have known and loved her since she was a few days old."

Payne works as a dairy manager in Ikamatua, milking 600 mixed-breed cows, mainly Fleckvieh, on a 240-hectare milking platform.

Growing up on a dairy farm, Payne was passionate about cows from a young age.

She got her first job on a dairy farm when she left school at 18, and now, at 26, she remains as passionate about dairy as ever.

"I have 26 of my own cows on the dairy farm, all of which have names, and most of them enjoy cuddles. I concentrate on mainly posting my own cows."

Payne said she has particular cows that are her favourites, such as Brown Sugar and Popcorn, that she will retire and keep.

Each cow has its own personality, with some, like Carrot Cake, enjoying bread, walks and will fall asleep in Payne's arms.

Payne said her following is a mix of rural and urban, from other dairy farmers to people who have never even touched a cow.

She sees social media as a way to educate the urban demographic about farming practices that are often misunderstood.

"Animal activists often spread misinformation that urban people are tricked into believing. So social media allows us to show how happy the cows are, and that they enjoy their life as a dairy cow."

Payne said she often gets negative comments from animal activists, and while she initially engaged with those people, she now ignores them.

"I have tried to educate them in the past, but they're often stubborn, so nowadays I ignore them and concentrate my energy on people who are kind and genuinely want to learn about the industry."

Payne hopes to start a You Tube channel in the future to further educate people about dairy farming, and has begun selling merchandise and hopes to further utilise her platform to generate income.

"I just want to continue showing everyone how sweet cows are and how dairy cows enjoy their lives.

"Even though I have a big following, it is just a hobby as I don't make much money from my Instagram.

"In the future, it would be awesome to make at least an income so I can use that money to retire all my pet cows," Payne said.


Chloe Payne's tips for other farmers wanting to showcase their farm on social media:

  • Post consistently to gain followers
  • Form a good relationship with your cows so they come close to you for photos
  • Ignore all the negative comments
  • Don't try to hide farming practices that could be frowned upon.

By Claire Inkson