The country is now seeing the silver lining of the dark clouds that spoilt holidaymakers' summer fun.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand's economists say that, fed by the luxuriant grass grown in the summer-autumn rains, ewes could produce a million more lambs this year.
This 4 per cent increase over the previous spring would lift lambing percentage back to the 123 per cent high achieved two years earlier.
Economist Rob Davison said there was potential to exceed this.
Each 1 percentage point change in lambing per centage equated to 200,000 lambs.
Ewe condition was good across the country, he said.
"Scanning results for most regions show in-lamb ewes are carrying more multiple lambs with the general comment that scanning percentages are up 5 to 10 per cent on last year.
'All we need now is an excellent spring to ensure high survival of the lambs born.'
Beef + Lamb's annual stock survey showed sheep numbers had grown 2.6 per cent and beef cattle numbers by 1 per cent for the year to June 30. This partly made up for a 4.4 per cent decline in sheep and 2.6 per cent fall in beef cattle the year before, Davison said.
Most of the sheep increase would be stock carried over for slaughter in July-September.
Davison said the national dairy herd increased 3.2 per cent, with part of this a carry-over of older cows in the North Island due to good growing conditions.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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