The cost-price squeeze in dairy farming has forced farmers to become more competitive in the market place. This has primarily occurred through increased herd size and productivity gains associated with labour-saving technology. The cost and revenue structures and changes in the contribution of key dairy production inputs to total cash expenditure and farm income over the 1972/73-1996/97 period were analysed. Data were taken from the annual publications of the Livestock Improvement Corporation and the New Zealand Dairy Board. Implications for the future growth of dairy farms and the industry are drawn from the analysis.