Widespread drought last season will mean an estimated two
million fewer lambs this spring.
The Beef and Lamb New Zealand Economic Service's annual stock
number survey has been released and confirmed what many
predicted - lamb numbers were expected to be down 7.7% to
24.43 million head.
The export lamb slaughter for 2013-14 was expected to be 18.6
million head, a decrease of 8.5%, and export cattle slaughter
was forecast to drop 2.7% to 2.2 million head.
Drought conditions affected ewe condition at mating and
scanning results were variable across the North Island, the
service's chief economist Andrew Burtt said.
''We're expecting lambing percentages to be down by up to 20
percentage points in the regions worst hit by drought in the
''The South Island fared better and scanning results were
down only a few percentage points - and that's against last
season, which was favourable in the South,'' he said.
Nationally, the lambing percentage was expected to fall by
six to seven percentage points, following two season of
record lambing performance due to favourable conditions.
In Otago and Southland, scanning results were variable, but
overall there was a decline of up to five percentage points.
Spring lambing conditions would be a key factor determining
the final lamb crop, which would be reviewed in November when
Beef and Lamb New Zealand's lamb crop survey was completed.
Overall, sheep numbers were down 1% to 30.94 million head at
June 30 this year, compared with 31.26 million a year
Breeding ewes in the North Island decreased by 2.7% to 9.52
million and increased by 0.5% to 10.69 million in the South
In Otago, breeding ewes increased 3.2% but they decreased
2.2% in Southland, in part reflecting the expansion of
A 6.3% increase in total beef cattle in Otago was made up of
sizeable increases in the number of breeding cows and other
cattle, offset by a decrease in weaner cattle on hand.
The large increase in other cattle reflected farmers holding
trading cattle at June 30, whereas there was a marked
decrease in 2012 when good pastoral conditions supported
In Southland, where the beef cattle herd was small, the 8.4%
increase in beef breeding cows underpinned an overall 4.6%
increase in total beef cattle.
Nationally, the number of beef breeding cows at 1.05 million
head was down 0.5% on the previous year.