A slight recovery in lamb numbers in the coming spring is forecast by Beef + Lamb New Zealand. But the numbers are still expected to the second lowest in 50 years.
An annual survey of stock numbers shows that sheep numbers fell by more than 2% to just under 32 million in the past year.
Beef cattle numbers were static at almost four million.
Economic Service Rob Davison says early expectations are for this spring's total lamb crop to be up by 1.4 million on last year's 26 million lambs.
But he says it will be the second smallest lamb crop in 50 years.
lamb exports fell 15% In the past year, but earned more than 3% more, due to higher prices.