B+LNZ’s annual stock number survey from its economic service revealed New Zealand’s beef cattle herd has increased by 1.9% to 3.7m head over the past year.
The organisation said the growth in figures was due to a lift in weaner cattle in the Marlborough-Canterbury regions.
Other results from the survey revealed the decline in the sheep flock was slowed by a lift in hoggets as farmers responded positively to strong prices and good grass growth leading into winter.
Hogget numbers increased by 2.5% to 9.1 million, with ewe hoggets retained to replenish declining ewe flocks and trade lamb purchases from the Southland area due to dry summer conditions, according to the survey.
B+LNZ’s economic service chief economist Andrew Burtt said the number of breeding ewes fell in all regions of New Zealand – and by 2.1% overall.
“The number of breeding ewes decreased 3.5% to 8.3 million in the North Island, while South Island numbers dropped 0.8% to 9 million,” said Burtt. “The decrease largely reflects farmers taking advantage of strong prices for mutton. There was also a preference – particularly in the older farmer demographic – towards less labour-intensive livestock options for sheep.”
B+LNZ are currently weighing up feedback from farmers regarding the consultation proposal to hike up sheepmeat and beef levies. The organisation is expected to make a decision imminently on the outcome of the levy proposal, with farmers being notified in the middle of August.