A cooler, wetter summer has been the main factor behind a drop in the number of lambs processed at meat plants last month, especially in the South Island.
The lamb kill for January was 15 percent down in the North Island and 26 percent lower in the South Island, compared with last year. However, the mutton kill was almost 15 percent higher overall.
The executive director of Beef + Lamb New Zealand's economic service, Rob Davison, says the influence of last summer's drought is showing through.
"January a year ago we were heading into quite a drought in the North Island,," he says, "so there was a lot of priority to sorting lamb early in the North Island. This year...it was quite a cool January and not a lot of sunshine, and lambs just weren't coming forward."
Lamb processing for the export season is running about 6 percent behind and mutton about 4 percent ahead.