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Drought to Impact NZ Lamb Crop

15 July 2013

NEW ZEALAND - Whilst Ireland has been basking in record temperatures over the last week, some thought should be given to New Zealand sheep farmers who experienced a sizzling heat wave earlier this year, writes Declan Fennell, Meat Division, Bord Bia.

Large parts of New Zealand were declared a drought zone, the worst in over 70 years, after the summer months saw only a third of the normal rainfall as temperatures rocketed into the early forties.

The effects of the 2013 drought are already showing the telltale signs that the 2013/14 New Zealand lamb crop will be back with the expectation that prices will rise in the coming months.

According to New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industry, the drought is expected to contribute to a three per cent decrease in breeding ewe numbers and a 38 per cent decrease in mated ewe hoggets. With the breeding flock in sub-optimal condition, due to feed supply issues associated with the drought, it is inevitable that litter sizes will be back as well.

Industry estimates would indicate that the New Zealand lamb crop in 2013/14 could be back by 2-3 million and consequently lamb production for the year ending June 2014 may fall by as much as 10 per cent to 341,000 tonnes. With fewer lambs being born, the lamb kill for the coming season will fall and as such New Zealand lamb exports will be lower.

In a recent interview with Rural News New Zealand, Silver Ferns Farm are speculating that the average price for new season lamb could reach NZ$100 and break the NZ$5/kg threshold. Should these predictions come true, a tightening in global sheep meat supplies and rising prices will certainly have a ripple effect on the Irish sheep sector later this year.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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