The Southland blizzard, spring storms in the North Island and dairy conversions have taken their toll on this season’s lamb crop.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service announced today after reviewing the provisional half-year lamb slaughter numbers that total lamb production is on track to reach the forecast figure of 19.3 million head for the current season. This season is 7.7 per cent less than the 2009-10 season and is less than the 19.5 million head forecast in the November 2010 Lamb Crop report. This is the lowest lamb slaughter figure since the 1960-61 season.
Supply is down and prices are up and look bouyant for the rest of the season.
Lower global supply, including lower than usual exports from Australia, have led to higher mutton prices with record highs throughout the season even though our export mutton volumes are higher.
Based on the provisional half-year slaughter numbers, we still expect at least 4 million head of mutton to be processed, which is 9.9 per cent more than last season.” Anecdotal comment suggests farmers are culling the bottom end of their flocks to take advantage of higher mutton prices and this could lift the mutton volume a further 5 per cent (0.2 million). In turn this may have an offset with more lambs kept as replacements lowering the export lamb slaughter by a similar number. Lamb prices for April averaged $116 per head and were up 53 per cent on last year’s $76 per head for the same month. Similarly mutton prices are up 63 per cent on 12 months ago and for April averaged $97 per head.
The last three seasons have been very tough for sheep farmers. This season’s improved returns for lamb and mutton and are very welcome, especially when pelts and wool are also receiving better prices.