Dairy herd number continues to rise

Sheep and beef cattle numbers in Southland have continued to fall while the trend to more dairy cows continues unabated, Statistics NZ figures show.

Sheep numbers slid 10.5 per cent from about 4.6 million to 4.1 million in the year to the end of June 2011.

The number of lambs tailed in Southland fell by 19.1 per cent from about 5 million to about 4 million.

The South Island sheep decrease came mainly from Southland and Otago, the two regions most severely affected by snow and storms during the 2010 spring lambing season, the Statistics NZ's annual agriculture production survey says.

Nationally, sheep numbers were down just 4.4 per cent from 32.5 million to 31.1 million from a high of 70 million in the early 1980s.

Beef cattle numbers also slid in Southland down 6.6 per per cent to 174,000. Nationally, beef numbers were down just 2.6 per cent from 3.95 million to 3.85 million.

However, the Southland dairy cattle herd rose 2.6 per cent to 615,000, with the number of calves born alive to dairy heifers/cows or heifers in milk up 10.4 per cent to 399,000. Dairy numbers were up 4.4 per cent across the country.

More cattle were kept for milk production and future replacement as a result of the high milk solid payout and strong international demand for dairy products. The national milking herd was 4.82 million, 136,000 more than in 2010, the survey says.

Southland deer numbers dropped by about 1 per cent to 244,000 but the South Island had twice as many deer as the North Island, with 764,000 and 325,000 respectively.

The barley harvest in Southland rose 10.5 per cent to 32,800 tonnes, but the wheat harvest dropped 35 per cent to 15,100 tonnes.

The Southland Times