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Sheep Numbers Continue to Decline - Stats NZ

Sheep Numbers Continue to Decline

According to Statistics New Zealand's latest Agricultural Production Survey the estimated national sheep population is 45.2 million as at 30 June 1999.

This is 2.2 million fewer than were recorded at 30 June 1996. The fall partly reflects the continuing trend away from sheep farming to dairy farming and forestry.

Adverse weather conditions in some regions, particularly the successive droughts, have also contributed to the decline. However, favourable climatic and economic conditions since June 1999 have reportedly led to some rebuilding of flocks.

The continuing trend of dairy conversions is reflected in the national dairy cattle estimate of 4.4 million at 30 June 1999, up on the 4.2 million at 30 June 1996. The main contribution to this increase came from the South Island.

Deer numbers were estimated at 1.7 million at 30 June 1999 compared with 1.2 million at 30 June 1996.

Over the last three years deer farming has remained a favourable option even though velvet and venison has experienced mixed market returns due to the Asian market downturn and an over supply of venison.

Traditional sheep and beef farmers have viewed deer farming as a means of diversification to offset risk.

The Agricultural Production Survey was developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Len Cook
GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN
ENDS

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