Drought shrinks NZ flock and lamb crop

Thursday, 8 October 2020

The New Zealand national flock shrank by 2% in the year to 30 June, according to the latest stock survey by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

Much of the fall was due to lower numbers of hoggets, which decreased by 8% to 8.4 million head. This was mostly due to many farmers destocking in response to prolonged dry conditions, which limited grass growth and feed availability.

B+LNZ expects the 2020 national lamb crop to be down 4% at 22.28 million head, down 980,000 head from spring 2019. While the number of breeding ewes remained largely unchanged on the year, ewe condition was generally poorer at mating time, leading to pregnancy scanning results falling 5-10% overall. Fewer hoggets were also mated this season, with farmers looking to conserve winter feed. This may have an effect on the future flock size.

Conditions going into spring and summer will be crucial in determining the success of the upcoming NZ lamb crop. Reports suggest soil moisture is depleted and lower-than-average rain forecast in some areas, which may restrict forage availability.

Hannah Clarke

Analyst - Livestock

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