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Tasman region sheep numbers jump as other regions suffer

Jul 1st, 2016 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


Photo Cedits: Harriett Phillips. Lambs on Paratiho

Sheep numbers in Tasman jumped 46.2% in the season ending June 2015.

Tasman sheep numbers jumped from 243,000 to 355,000, according to Statistics New Zealand’s Agricultural Production Statistics report.

Of the 17 regions in New Zealand, only seven had an increase in sheep numbers and Tasman had the biggest percentage jump in the country.

Dave McEwen on Paratiho

Dave McEwen on Paratiho

Dave McEwen, farm manager at Paratiho Ltd, a sheep, beef and deer farm in Tasman says a favourable season was one of the causes of the rise, because of good lambing percentages.

“North Canterbury had reduced stock due to severe drought, there were pockets of Otago where there were also reduced numbers,” Mr McEwen says.

“Can’t feed them, can’t have them,” he says.

Greg Sheppard, a farm management consultant for Sheppard Agriculture, agrees with Mr McEwen’s remarks.

“I’ve got no doubt that there would have been a rise due to the drought influence and people buying in stock out of drought affected areas,” Mr Sheppard says.

Photo Credit: Harriett Phillips

Photo Credit: Harriett Phillips. Lambs on Paratiho

The Tasman increase is in contrast to the national figure of 29.1 million sheep, which was a decrease of 2 percent when compared with 2014.

The report stated the lambing percentage for the country in 2014 was 131%, which is up from the previous season.

Paratiho Ltd is predicting a slightly lower lambing percentage of at 128% at this stage.

“I’ve predicted a reduced lambing percentage pre-scanning, it’s all guess work at this stage.  The prediction is due to excessive facial eczema issues in the area affecting fertility in ewes,” he says

For the year ending June 2015 sheep numbers in the South Island declined 832,000 (5 percent), and in the North Island the numbers were up by 149,000 (1 percent).

The biggest drop in the South Island was the West Coast, which lost 57.9% of its sheep numbers over the season.

Greg Sheppard found the statistics surprising but he can understand the influx of breeding aged ewes coming into the region.

graph bottom image“It is warmer in winter so there’s a bit more pasture growth so they can suck up a little more stock,” he says.

Mutton and Lamb meat exports brought $2.9 billion into the country with 378,000 tonnes of sheep meat being exported for the year, says Statistics New Zealand.

Dairy cattle numbers in the area stayed steady, beef cattle had a slight increase and deer numbers have had a bit of a fall.

Deer numbers have decreased in key areas for the farming of venison, Canterbury and Otago

Deer numbers in New Zealand having halved over the last decade.

Dave McEwen has been increasing Paratiho’s deer numbers steadily over the past three years, however he says he can understand why farmers may be trading deer for more economically viable stock.

“Deer numbers decreased due to market returns, some of the farm they used to farm deer on went to dairy due to high economic returns,” he says.

The report states livestock numbers in New Zealand in general are on a slight decline.



deer in dusk paratiho below

Deer at dusk on Paratiho

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