Sheep flock down, beef herd up in latest stock number survey

The total number of sheep in New Zealand decreased 0.8 percent (by 199,000 head) to an estimated 25.83 million while beef cattle numbers rose 2.5 per cent to 3.98 million, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ)’s annual stock number survey.

The decline in sheep numbers was across both breeding ewes, down 0.5 per cent to 16.48 million, and hoggets, which decreased 0.6 per cent to 8.61 million. An increase in the number of beef cattle was driven largely by more rising two-year-old cattle, particularly in the North Island.

The decline in hogget numbers was most noticeable in Northland-Waikato-Bay of Plenty (6.7 per cent) and Southland (-7.9 per cent), where strong mutton prices encouraged greater levels of trading. Winter and spring 2020 conditions were difficult in some regions, particularly the South Island, leading to destocking of sheep prior to Christmas due to lack of feed. Drought and dry conditions along eastern parts of the country in 2021 led to tight feed conditions for many farmers. Continue reading