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More sheep and beef


More sheep and beef

For Immediate Release
2 August 2006

Higher ewe numbers will offset lower than expected lambing percentages on New Zealand farms this year, according to the latest Meat and Wool New Zealand Stock Number Survey.

Meat and Wool New Zealand Economic Service Executive Director, Rob Davison says while ewe numbers were estimated to increase 3.2 percent to 27.3 million by the end of June 2006, early indications are that the lamb crop this spring will be similar to last year.

“We’re expecting that the number of lambs born per ewe mated will be down on last spring because of lower conception rates, and that will cancel out the higher ewe numbers.”

Ewe numbers have been on the decrease for some time, but this year’s projections are the first significant increase in 22 years. South Island breeding ewe numbers increased by 4.4 percent – with Marlborough-Canterbury up 5.8 percent. Otago and Southland also increased 3.8 and 3.0 respectively. North Island numbers were up 1.9 percent.

Total sheep numbers increased 1.9 percent to 40.7 million head and this is in spite of a drop in hogget numbers of 0.3 percent.

“We’re seeing fewer hogget numbers in the regions where farmers off-loaded stock earlier than last year because of adverse weather conditions.”

Beef cattle numbers increased by 0.6 percent to 4.46 million head on the previous June.

This equates to 27,000 extra head on the previous June. The South Island beef cattle numbers were up 3.1 percent, with the increase exclusively confined to Marlborough-Canterbury. North
Island beef cattle numbers went down 0.3 percent to 3.24 million head at June 2006. This decrease is attributed to the 1.9 per cent decrease in the Northland-Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

The breeding cow numbers have increased 0.9 percent to 1.27 million head.

Mr Davison says there were mixed results regionally with Northland-Waikato-BoP recording the largest increase – up 3.4 percent. Southland beef breeding cow numbers were also up 2.9 percent.

“In Northland-Waikato-BoP relatively stable prices, smaller dairy farms going to beef and confidence in the industry all contributed to the increase in cow numbers. This was particularly evident in Northland.”

Weaner numbers increased nationally, although the regional results were mixed. In the North Island weaner numbers were up by 0.5 percent while South Island numbers jumped 11.4 percent. A significant bearing on this result was the increased weaner numbers in Marlborough and Canterbury – up 18.4 percent. This is largely due to finishing farms switching more attention to buying cattle because of uncertain lamb markets.
The trend in sheep and beef cattle numbers since 1985 follows.

Trend in New
Zealand sheep and beef cattle numbers since
Click to enlarge


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