6 Sep 2013

Lamb numbers hit by drought

4:51 pm on 6 September 2013

Meat companies will have fewer lambs and cattle to process this season as a result of the drought in the North Island and western South Island.

An annual stock number survey by Beef + Lamb New Zealand indicates that two million fewer lambs will be born this spring, reducing the number to fewer than 24.5 million - a drop of 8.5%.

Chief economist Andrew Burtt says that is due to a combination of factors triggered by the drought, including a drop in North Island ewe numbers.

"The main impact has been in the North Island where sheep numbers declined nearly 3%; whereas in the South Island they were almost static."

He says that will have flow-on effects for exporters as they try to meet demand from overseas customers in particular.

Mr Burrt says cattle numbers have also reduced by 1.3% nationally, which he says was most noticeable in the North Island where the decline was about 2.5%.