24 Nov 2010

Lamb numbers down 10% on last year

6:00 am on 24 November 2010

The annual lamb survey done by Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Economic Service has revealed the full extent of the losses caused by spring storms.

It shows just over 25 million lambs were tailed this year. That's 10%, or 2.8 million fewer than last year, the biggest season to season drop in more than 20 years.

As expected, Southland took the biggest hit, due to a severe snow storm there in September, with 730,000 fewer lambs than last year.

But the Economic Service says lamb losses in the North Island were also unexpectedly high.

Executive director Rob Davison predicts that 1.4 million fewer lambs will be processed for export this season.

However, he says the reduction is less than the overall drop in lamb numbers, because farmers won't be keeping back as many lambs as they did last year.