Only seven sheep each

August 10, 2016

New Zealand’s beef cattle population has grown but the sheep population has shrunk:

New Zealand’s beef cattle herd increased by 2.8 per cent to 3.7 million during the 2015-16 season – same time as the country’s sheep flock decreased 3.0 per cent and now totals 28.3 million.

That’s nearly one cattle beast each and only around seven sheep per person. At peak sheep when the population was around three million we had 20 sheep each.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s latest stock number survey shows that the 2015-16 year has been an exceptionally trying farming season with facial eczema in the North Island and widespread climatic challenges in other parts of the country particularly, North Canterbury.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Operating Officer, Cros Spooner says the 2.8 per cent increase in beef cattle numbers follows a 3.3 per cent decline in the 2014-15 season.

The largest contributor to the increase in cattle numbers was a lift in weaner cattle across many regions, up 8.2 per cent as farmers responded to good returns. The exception to the increased weaner numbers trend was on the East Coast of the North Island, which experienced dry weather conditions, Spooner said.

“There was a continuing decline in the beef breeding herd, down by 1.6 per cent and reflects the trend to more flexible cattle systems. This reinforces the need for better integration with the dairy industry, particularly with genetics which is a key area of focus for Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Breeding cows are in demand now and prices are reflecting that.

Spooner says breeding ewe numbers fell across all regions of New Zealand. They were down by 3.1 per cent overall – but the largest drop was in Marlborough and Canterbury (-6.5%) due to the ongoing drought conditions.

“North Island ewe numbers decreased 2.9 per cent to 9.0 million with drought conditions and facial eczema a significant cause. South Island numbers dropped 3.3 per cent to 9.5 million also affected significantly by drought. Reducing capital stock numbers is often the least preferred option for farmers so it does reflect a very challenging year.”

Spooner says the national hogget flock is also down on last year.

“Hogget numbers decreased 3.0 per cent to 8.9 million, but the fall was most dramatic in the North Island – down 6.9 per cent. On the East Coast, some of the decrease was driven by a reduced lambing% in spring 2015 and the influence of dry conditions forcing destocking in autumn 2016.In Taranaki-Manawatu, lambs were finished earlier, in response to the conditions, leading to fewer head on hand at season- close. Marlborough and Canterbury hogget numbers increased by 4.8 per cent with higher numbers of bought in trade hoggets held at season end.

“Ewe condition and scanning results have been variable across New Zealand and the lamb crop is expected to be down by 2.9 per cent, to 23.3 million – 0.7 million fewer than last season. This is the result of several factors, including fewer breeding ewes and higher empty rates which will reduce lambs born to ewes mated.”

Spooner said many farmers would want to have more stock on-hand at this time of year, however a combination of dairy farmers rearing more replacements themselves (normally grazed on sheep and beef farms), climatic conditions that have led to early sales of stock, lower pasture covers in some regions and in some cases a shortage of available of replacement stock, are all factors. The challenge for farmers will be maximising the performance of animals on-hand and secondly as farming conditions allow finding profitable stock classes to restock with. . . 

The full report is here.

New Zealand’s sheep population peaked at more than 70 million in response to SMPs – Supplementary Minimum Prices – which created a mutton mountain we couldn’t sell.

A combination of droughts and the end of subsidies in the wake of Roger Douglas’s first Budget in 1984 led to a sharp decline in sheep numbers and they’ve been going down ever since.

The steep decline in stock numbers hasn’t been mirrored by a similar slump in the amount of meat produced.

Better genetics and farming methods have enabled farmers to produce more meat per sheep.

While the quantity of sheep has fallen, the quality of meat exported has improved. In the 1980s most of our meat was sold as frozen carcases. Different cuts, and improved technology which has given chilled meat a longer shelf life, have resulted in better meat which can command a higher price.

New markets have been developed and our reliance on the Uk has decreased, but even so there’s still a lot of the world which isn’t interested in sheep meat.

Falling stock numbers and increasing automation have led to far fewer jobs at meat works too and this report is likely to lead to more debate on over capacity in the industry.


Rural round-up

June 20, 2012

Beefing up the research team at Rabobank:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand has announced the appointment of Sarah Sivyer as the senior animal proteins analyst in its Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) division.

Ms Sivyer will undertake high quality research of the animal proteins sector – beef, sheepmeat and pork– supporting Rabobank’s analysis of key markets in the food and agricultural sectors in the region.

Announcing the new appointment, Rabobank general manager for the bank’s Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory division Luke Chandler said Sarah would be a valuable asset to the research team given her experience across a range of agricultural industries.

“Not only has Sarah been involved with the hands-on and strategic running of her family cattle property, she has also built a career working with leading global agricultural companies, which gives her an excellent foundation for her role at Rabobank,” Mr Chandler said. . .

Beef + Lamb NZ supports wool innovation:

Funds left over from wool levies collected by Meat & Wool New Zealand – now Beef + Lamb New Zealand -have supported the development of a new fabric that blends waste rice straw and New Zealand strong wool.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Operating Officer, Cros Spooner welcomed the innovation from Wellington company,  The Formary, the same company that transformed Starbucks coffee sacks into upholstery fabric for the coffee chain’s furniture.

“The Formary and Managing Director Bernadette Casey have made some valuable contacts in China which produces about two hundred million tonnes of rice a year. This makes vast amounts of waste rice straw and this latest innovation uses the waste rice straw and blends it with 29 micron wool to make upholstery weight fabric. . .

Milking the carbon question – Dr Jon Hauser:

This month I have been asked to comment on the dreaded carbon tax and associated government policy. It is a massive question and the Australian government is pouring an enormous amount of taxpayer’s time and money into the issue. This article provides a perspective on what is it all about and what it means for Australian dairy farmers.

Why is carbon a problem?

Many would say that the climate change is the underpinning driver for the carbon tax and associated government policy changes. Depending on your viewpoint climate change issue is either (a) a fiction and a conspiracy propagated by scientists and other political and economic opportunists (b) it is real but a natural climate cycle outside our control (c) a man-made phenomenon arising from our consumption and emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses. Irrespective of your personal view, governments around the world are taking option (c) very seriously. At an international level co-operation and direct action to reduce CO2 and the associated climate effect remains patchy. There is none-the-less a consensus that something should be done to reduce the rate of increase of greenhouse gas emissions and work towards a net reduction. . .

Top price for Gimmerburn bull – Sally Rae:

Maniototo stud cattle breeder Bev Helm was thrilled to    achieve the top price at the South Island Shorthorn sale in Temuka.   

 Rough Ridge Primo 1004 sold for $10,200 to Bill Callwood, of      Northland. It was also the top-priced Shorthorn bull in New  Zealand this year.   

 Mrs Helm, who farms at Gimmerburn with her husband Malcolm      and their three children, was “absolutely stoked” with the result. . .

Sainsbury cadets visits Alliance :

Representatives from one of the UK’s major supermarkets have gone behind the scenes at Alliance Group.   

      Two cadets from Sainsbury’s have been visiting the meat  company to gain an insight into the industry including meat processing, research and development and livestock procurement.   

  Lisa Quinn, of Ireland, and Mark Chaddock, of Manchester, were in New Zealand as part of the supermarket’s six-week Taste the World programme, in which students worked with Sainsbury’s suppliers and partners around the world. . .

Grass growth key to farm improvement – Sally Rae:

It is all about grass. Forget the stock, or even yourself –      Farmax Ltd general manager Gavin McEwen reckons the biggest asset a farmer has on their farm is the ability to grow      grass.   

 Farmax, which is 50% owned by AgResearch, specialises in decision support systems for pastoral farming enterprises.   

 Mr McEwen gave an address entitled “Converting Pasture Into Profit” during the recent PGG Wrightson seminar series at  Waimate.   

  New Zealand was very good at producing protein, particularly safe, reliable high quality animal protein, he said. . .

RX Plastics launches major product innovation at Fieldays:

This year’s Mystery Creek Fieldays was the platform for New Zealand pipe and irrigation specialists RX Plastics to launch their biggest range of pipe fittings yet for the farm irrigation market.

The result of a year’s worth of research and development time, prototyping and tooling up, the injection moulded range is glass reinforced nylon, and will firmly cement the company’s position as New Zealand’s premier fittings manufacturer and distributor.

According to industrial designer and project engineer, Chris Clay, this is the first time in the company’s history that such a major product development process has been undertaken. . .


Wool levy funds 7 entrepreneurial projects

July 12, 2011

Seven entrepreneurial projects using wool will share half a million dollars from Beef + Lamb NZ.

The cash comes from a contestable fund set up to share out the remaining wool levies, with the money going to businesses demonstrating the greatest potential to pump money back into the wool industry – and ultimately, into farmers’ pockets.

Some of the projects aim to do this by achieving savings through the development of tools and systems for improved efficiency and consistency. Others are focused on increasing demand for wool through research and the creation of new products and niche markets.

The successful applicants were chosen by an advisory panel from 28 bids by farmer groups, wool industry service providers and manufacturers.

B+LNZ Chief Operating Officer, Cros Spooner says it was exciting to review all 28 projects. “It shows there is some genuine passion and talent with companies involved in the New Zealand wool industry.”

“We believe each of the seven projects we’ve funded has a very real chance of delivering value back to New Zealand farmers, which is great news.”

To ensure the Wool Levy Fund distribution improves returns for wool growers, applicants were required to show their commitment to investing time, money and resources in the success of the project. Each of the successful projects will be matched 50:50 with funding from the applicant group.

  • Eastbourne-based Potroz-Smith Technologies Ltd is researching the production
    of an environmentally friendly, super absorbent wool-based material for use in
    personal hygiene and wound-care products that will be natural, non-toxic and
    biodegradable.
  • NZ Wool Services International will focus on developing practical tools to
    avoid underweight bales, which currently cost the industry an estimated
    $4million a year. The company is based in Christchurch.
  • Wellington company and sustainable textile inventor The Formary is looking
    at blending New Zealand strong wool and a waste material to develop a range of
    commercial and domestic interior products.
  • Wool Partners International and Banks Peninsula Wool Growers Group are
    working together to develop a truly sustainable carpet using natural processes
    and materials, including low pesticide, ethically-produced, traceable New
    Zealand wool.
  • Invercargill’s Alliance Group plans to incorporate wool production into its
    Hoofprint software package (developed in conjunction with Dunedin-based
    AbacusBio to measure on-farm carbon footprints). The company will work with NZ
    wool producers and marketers to gain extra market value for Hoofprint-accredited
    wool products.
  • Wool’s eco-friendly properties are the basis for a project by Matamata
    manufacturer Wool Equities, which will carry out market research, design and
    produce samples, and establish markets for high value bed blankets for premium
    international markets.
  • The New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association will use the funding to
    establish a quality assurance programme, underpinning recent work to ensure
    accredited shearing operators provide consistent product descriptions and
    demonstrate socially sound and sustainable business practices.

RadioNZ has a story on one of the recipients. Protroz-Smith Technologies is developing a super absorbent wool-based material called NatraZorb, to be used in disposable nappies, personal hygiene and wound care products .


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