Dairy cow numbers soar

Last updated 12:04 09/02/2010
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RECORD HIGH: Dairy cattle numbers hit a record high in the year to June 2009, with there now being one milking cow for every New Zealander.

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Sheep numbers have continued to fall, dairy cow numbers are rising and grain crops increased markedly, latest agricultural production figures show.

According to the data published today by Statistics New Zealand (SNZ), dairy cattle numbers hit a record high in the year to June 2009, with one milking cow for every New Zealander.

Total dairy cattle numbers hit a record high of 5.8 million in 2009, 4 percent higher than in 2008 and up 76 percent from 3.3 million in 1989.

At 4.6 million, the 2009 milking herd, identified as cows and heifers in milk or in calf, was 250,000 larger than in 2008.

The expansion was due to both dairy conversions and growth in the number of milking cows in existing herds, SNZ said.

``Increased numbers in the milking herd have resulted in there being one milking cow for every New Zealander,'' agriculture statistics manager Gary Dunnet said.

The national sheep flock was 5 percent down on 2008 to 32.4 million in 2009.

``Numbers were below half the peak of 70 million reached in 1982. In 2009, New Zealand had fewer
   than eight sheep per person,'' Mr Dunnet said.

Numbers in the sheep-breeding flock had declined since the 1980s. In 2009, 23.9 million ewes and ewe hoggets were mated, slightly more than half of the 42.5 million mated in 1989.

The fall in the national breeding flock was partly offset by a rise in the lambing percentage.

Substantial increases in both the area and tonnage of wheat harvested were recorded in 2009, with the area harvested up 27 percent on a year earlier to 53,900ha and the amount harvested up by 65,000 tonnes to 408,400 tonnes.

The figures included both bread wheat and wheat harvested for other purposes, SNZ said.

The area of barley increased 15 percent to 77,800ha, with the amount harvested up by 41,100 tonnes to 449,800 tonnes.

Maize grain area lifted 26 percent to 23,100ha, with the amount harvested up by 51,400 tonnes to 257,00 tonnes.

The area in wine grapes rose by 3340ha from 2007 to reach 32,960ha in 2009.

The 2009 area was more than six times the area planted 20 years ago, with the expansion of wine grape plantings reflecting success in the export market, SNZ said.

In the year to the end of June, 112 million litres of wine were exported, excluding fortified wines, compared to only 3 million litres in 1989.

Beef cattle numbered 4.1 million in 2009, similar to the previous year. Deer numbers were down 6 percent to an estimated at 1.2 million, 6 percent fewer than the previous year, but still far ahead of the 42,000 deer in 1979.

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An estimated 40,000ha of exotic forest was harvested in the year to the end of March, 6 percent down on the year before, SNZ said.

New area planted during the March year of 2300ha was down from 2700ha the previous year, and well below the 33,700ha of new plantings in the 2001 calendar year.

In 2009, 31,100ha of exotic forest was replanted, down 6 percent from 33,100ha the previous year, and compared to 42,500ha replanted in 2001.

- NZPA

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