1 Dec 2017

Record number of lambs born this spring

1:11 pm on 1 December 2017

A record number of lambs have been born this year.

The Uruguay round increased the amount of lamb New Zealand could export to the UK to 228,000 tonnes.

It's been a good year for sheep farmers. Photo: 123RF

Beef and Lamb New Zealand's annual lamb crop report shows that 23.7 million lambs have been docked, or tailed as it's known in the south, this spring.

That's a nearly two percent increase on last year, and means that, on average, 127 lambs were born per hundred ewes.

Beef and Lamb's chief economist Andrew Burtt said it had been a good season for sheep farmers.

"There were good conditions in autumn when ewes were being mated and those conditions carried on, although it did get very wet through winter.

"There's fewer ewes around but they have performed better which is just part of that continuous improvement of what farmers are doing to get better and better, and more productive, over time."

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Crop trends from 1990 to 2015. Photo: Image: Supplied by Beef and Lamb New Zealand/Statistics NZ

North Island lamb numbers were a major driver of the overall lift in the lamb crop, with growth of 4.9 per cent to 11.7 million lambs.

In the South Island, lamb numbers fell by one percent to 12.0 million lambs, as a result of Southland farmers mating fewer ewes.

Mr Burtt said overall there were good weather conditions for lambing this year, but isolated weather events resulted in losses in parts of the high country, and wet, stormy snaps of weather in north Marlborough and Southland.

The number of lambs available for export processing this season is 19.27 million, similar to last season's 19.25 million lambs.

However, the tonnage of lamb produced is expected to decrease slightly due to a lower average carcass weight, which will offset the rise in lambs being processed

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