Smallest NZ lamb crop since 1953

03 December 2015

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Lamb Crop 2015 Report, released this week, estimates that the number of lambs marked in the spring of 2015 was down 1.73 million head (6.7%), to 23.9 million head – the smallest New Zealand (NZ) lamb crop in almost 60 years.

These results reportedly reflect three key factors:

  • The number of breeding ewes were 4.5% lower than 2014 (as at 1 July 2015), at 18.9 million head – largely attributed to drought conditions during 2014-15
  • Lower lambing percentages across most of the country, due to tight feed supplies in the lead up to winter
  • Fewer hoggets were mated – the number of lambs from hoggets declined 7.3% from 2014, to 1.07 million head.

As a result, for the first quarter of the 2015-2016 season (September to November 2015), NZ lamb slaughter is forecast to total 4.53 million head – 4.3% below the corresponding period the previous year. Beef + Lamb NZ expect 23% of the total lamb kill for 2015-16 (forecast at 19.53 million head) to occur in the first quarter.

Following an increase in NZ lamb production, and subsequently lamb exports, during the latter half of the 2014-2015 season, it is expected that NZ lamb shipments in 2015-16 will fall 6.3% year-on-year, to 293,000 tonnes swt.

In short, this means that Australia’s major competitor for lamb exports will have reduced lamb export availability over the coming year. However, Australia’s capacity to capitalise on this advantage will be somewhat constrained, as Australian lamb supply is expected to be tighter in 2016 as well.

Source: Beef + Lamb New Zealand

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