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Dairy cattle numbers up, sheep numbers down

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Embargoed until 10:45am – 14 May 2009

Dairy cattle numbers up, sheep numbers down

Dairy cattle numbers rose in 2008 while sheep, beef and deer numbers fell, Statistics New Zealand said today. These results are from the final results of the 2008 Agricultural Production Survey.

There were 5.6 million dairy cattle at 30 June 2008, 6 percent more than in 2007. North Island numbers increased 4 percent to 3.8 million, while in the South Island, dairy cattle numbers were up 10 percent, to 1.8 million. A significant factor that encouraged this growth was increases in milksolid payments.

Sheep numbers fell to 34 million in 2008, an 11 percent decrease from 2007. This was the largest fall recorded since sheep numbers peaked at 70 million in 1982. Sheep numbers in the North Island and South Island were similar, at 17 million each in 2008.

In 2008, beef cattle numbers were estimated at 4.1 million, 6 percent less than in 2007. Deer numbers were down to 1.2 million in 2008, back to the level recorded in 1994.

More sheep, beef cattle and deer were slaughtered in 2008 due to a number of contributing factors. These factors included the continued growth of the dairy industry, dry weather conditions in a number of regions, exchange rates and rising farming costs.

There were increases in both the area and tonnage of barley harvested during the year to 30 June 2008. The 67,400 hectares harvested was 31 percent more than in 2007. During the same period, the tonnage harvested increased 22 percent, to 408,700 tonnes.

Wheat production in the year to 30 June 2008 was similar to 2007 in both the area and tonnage harvested.

In 2008, there were 42,300 hectares and 343,400 tonnes of wheat harvested.

Geoff Bascand Government Statistician 14 May 2009

Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2008 (pdf)

ENDS

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