NZ beef cattle herd increases due to South Island growth

Andrew Burtt
Andrew Burtt, B+LNZ chief economist.

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 2.6 percent between 30 June 2018 and 30 June 2019, while the sheep flock increased by 0.4 percent, according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) annual stock number survey. 

The annual stock number survey, conducted by B+LNZ’s Economic Service, estimates there are now 3.8 million beef cattle and 27.4 million sheep in New Zealand.

Otago and Southland were the fastest growing regions in beef cattle, up by 12.9 and 12.0 percent respectively, due to high pasture growth and feed availability encouraging farmers to keep cattle on hand over balance date.

The growth in the number of total sheep was more subdued, with little variability by region.

B+LNZ Economic Service chief eStock Number Survey 30 June 2019conomist Andrew Burtt says a drier summer and late arrival of rain in autumn reduced feed availability during the middle of the season in the North Island.

“Not all livestock types increased, as fewer ewes and cows were mated after a season of strong prices encouraged farmers to send more livestock to processors, reducing the number of breeding ewes by 1.1 percent and the number of breeding cows by 1.4 percent. Ewes were in poorer condition than in 2018 due to less feed being available and dry conditions through summer.”

The total number of hoggets increased 3.4 percent, largely due to strong increases in Northland-Waikato-Bay of Plenty (+9.2 percent) and the South Island (+8.1 percent).

Download full Stock Number Survey as at 30 June 2019 (PDF, 4.39MB)

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