Cold spring weather is keeping a lid on pasture and lamb growth rates, so early weaning some lamb crop may be a good option.
The report shows that in the last year beef cattle numbers are up by 2.6% (or 97,000 head) nationwide. Of this total 3.8 million, just over one million are breeding cows or heifers.
The biggest increase in beef numbers was in the South Island – up 4.6% while the North Island was up 1.8%. Most of the increase in beef numbers in the South Island was in Otago and Southland, while the East Coast and Taranaki/Manawatu were the main contributors to the rise in cattle numbers in the North Island.
Despite beef cattle numbers being up, surprisingly the number of breeding cows declined in the last year by 1.4%. But against the national trend there was an increase in Otago. BLNZ predicts calving percentages for the current season will be in line with those of 2018.
In sheep, a minuscule increase of 0.4% in the national flock is due to greater hogget numbers which rose 3.4% to 9.55m. Set against that was a drop of 1.1% in the number of breeding ewes (16.97m) held on farms.
BLNZ says it has been a great season for lambs: the tally is down 570,000 or 2.4% on last season.
The North Island lamb crop is expected to drop by 1.8% and the South Island crop by 3%.