19 Dec 2012

Sheep flock down - dairy cows, wine up

4:12 pm on 19 December 2012

The lastest agricultural statistics show there are now just seven sheep for every New Zealander - well down from the industry's peak.

The recent rise of the dairy industry has seen large-scale conversion of sheep and beef properties to dairying.

Statistics New Zealand agricultural statistician Hamish Hill says the sheep flock is about 31 million this year.

In 1982, there were more than 70 million sheep, or 22 per person.

The national dairy herd is at 6.5 million, an increase of 1.2 million cows on 2007, which represents an extra 370 bottles of two-litre milk per person.

Mr Hill says the wine industry has also grown tremendously over the last 30 years.

Just over 34,000 hectares are planted in vineyards, more than six times the area in 1982.