Tuesday, 29 September 2020 11:07

NZ’s sheep flock shrinks

Written by  Staff Reporters
The total number of sheep in New Zealand decreased 2.3% over the past year. The total number of sheep in New Zealand decreased 2.3% over the past year.

Drought has contributed to New Zealand’s sheep flock falling over the past year.

The total number of sheep in New Zealand decreased 2.3% over the past year to 26.21 million, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ)’s annual stock number survey.

Supplementary feed usage increased accordingly, as farmers used expensive feed in order to maintain the condition of their livestock. 

COVID-19 also reduced demand for stock as international trade was disrupted, sale yards were unable to operate, and processing capacity was restricted under social distancing requirements, causing delays of up to six weeks.

The lamb crop is expected to be 4.2% lower nationally.

B+LNZ economic service chief economist Andrew Burtt says that drought meant that farmers decided to have fewer hoggets, weaner cattle, and cows mated, which will have impacts on future stock numbers.

“The impact of the combined decisions to destock younger animals this year will be fewer stock in future years,” said Burtt.

“Capital breeding stock may have been retained this year, but the effects of the disruption in 2019-20 will be felt for at least a couple of years.”

Total sheep have declined from 57.85 million in June 1990 to 26.21 million in June 2020.

The full stock survey is available here.

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