A strong New Zealand dollar is forecast to push the market price of lamb down but farmers say favourable spring conditions should offset the lower prices.
Beef + Lamb economic service executive director Rob Davison said the market price per head of prime lamb was estimated to drop to $90 for 2012-13 compared to $110 last season and $115 for 2010-11.
The price of mutton and wool was also estimated to take a cut compared to the last two seasons, he said.
Federated Farmers Southland president Russell MacPherson said it was one of the best seasons he had seen in his 25 years of farming.
"We've had good grass growth which is the most important thing," he said.
MacPherson said there would be more lamb for meat companies but farmers could expect lower market prices.
Favourable spring conditions would help offset the lower price of lambs. More lambs should survive the spring, while good grass growth meant they would put weight on quickly.
"Mother nature must have realised that the prices are down so she's providing for us this year," Mr MacPherson said.
Beef + Lamb southern South Island extension manager Paul McCauley said the September storm was the only weather event to affect lambing. "[We] would have lost a few but the impact would have been minimal."
Riverton sheep and beef farmer Euan Templeton lost lambs in the early September storms.
"I got a bit of a hammering . . . lost a couple of hundred extra over normal losses during that period."
It was a kind season, but there was a serious dive in the market price for lamb, he said.
Western Southland sheep farmer Doug Fraser said the NZ dollar was contributing to a drop in lamb prices.
Despite a lower market price for lamb it had been a good season for rearing, he said.
"We've had a dream run really. Been the easiest lambing in years in terms of keeping lambs alive."
Beef + Lamb southern South Island director and sheep farmer Leon Black said it was a good recovery from unfavourable weather conditions of the past two years.
"There was feed on the ground, the lambs were in good health and the ewes were in good condition," he said.
Black said lamb raincoats saved lambs that would have otherwise died in the September wind chill.
"An increase in lambing percentages will mean more jobs for processors; a good spring will help offset a sharp decline in lamb prices."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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