The national lamb flock increased 6.2% this spring Meat and Wool NZ’s tailing survey shows.
A total of 28.95 million lambs were tailed this year, 1.7 million more than last spring when numbers reached a 51 year low.
North Island lamb numbers were up 9.1 per cent (1.1 million head) to 13.15 million head. South Island lamb numbers were up 4.0 per cent (0.60 million head) to 15.80 million head
Fewer ewes were put to the ram but good stock condition and generally favourable weather resulted in more multiple births and better lamb survival.
We had a 123 percent lambing nationally. This was 10.5 percentage points better than last season’s 111.1% when drought affected fertility.
An increase in the conception rate for ewes, plus good weather conditions in early lambing led to excellent lamb survival boosting the number of lambs tailed.
The export lamb slaughter for 2009-10 is estimated to be 23.5 million head. This is an increase of 4.4% on last season and represents one million more lambs available for slaughter. However, some of these lambs will be retained for replacements to make up for the drop in stock numbers last season.
New season lambs have been receiving similar prices as last season. However farmers are expecting the price to fall off rapidly after the Christmas export trade due to the strength of the dollar.
Last season gave a welcome boost in returns for sheep meat but while international demand is strong it is not expected to translate into prices which are high enough to compensate for the relatively high value of our currency.