NEW ZEALAND - The New Zealand (NZ) sheep flock has fallen below the 30 million head mark for the first time since 1943, as reported by Statistics New Zealand.
Meat and Livestock Australia commentators said that as at June 2014, the NZ sheep flock totalled 29.8 million head – back three per cent on the previous year.
When the NZ sheep flock peaked at 70.3 million head in 1982, there were 22 sheep per capita, but today it is estimated that there are just six sheep per capita.
The decline in the flock coincides with the NZ dairy herd increasing three per cent in 2014, compared the previous year, to almost 6.7 million head – with the continued land use change towards dairy farming putting pressure on both the sheep and beef industries.
Comparatively, lamb has fared better than dairy over the past year, with NZ lamb farm gate prices back around 15 per cent year-on-year, while milk powder prices are approximately 50 per cent lower than year-ago levels (AgriHQ).
Beef + Lamb NZ’s outlook to June 2015 is for the sheep flock to increase slightly, and for dairy cattle numbers to stabilise due to the impact of drought.
TheMeatSite News Desk