The number of sheep on New Zealand farms dropped to just under 34 million in 2008, a 12% drop on the year before.
The total is less than half the peak of 70 million sheep recorded in 1982.
Statistics New Zealand also says there were 6% fewer beef cattle, at 4.1 million.
At the other end of the scale, dairy cattle numbers have increased to 5.6 million, a rise of 6%.
More barley was harvested last year than the year before, an increase of one third to 67,000 hectares.