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Rise in national dairy herd slows

Thursday 12th May 2011

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The national dairy herd increased at a much slower rate in the year to June 2010, than in the preceding two years, final results from Statistic New Zealand's (SNZ) agricultural production survey show.

At the end of last June, the national dairy herd was just above 5.9 million, an increase of 50,000 from the year before.

That compared with increases of 280,000 in 2009 and 320,000 in 2008, SNZ said today.

At the start of the 2009/10 season, financial uncertainties had influenced farmers' expansion plans, with the predicted milk solid payout down to its lowest level since June 2008.

In contrast to previous years when most growth had been in the South Island, the small increase in dairy cattle numbers in 2010 had been in the North Island.

Sheep numbers rose 180,000 to 32.6m at June 2010, following falls in recent earlier years, with the national flock having fallen by 1.7m in 2009 and 4.4m in 2008.

The lambing percentage had recovered in 2010 to 127%, back to the level recorded in 2006, SNZ said.

In 2008 and 2009 drought in several regions had contributed to a lower lambing percentage of 119%, while weather conditions had been more favourable in most regions in 2010.

Beef cattle numbers fell 4% in 2010 to 3.9m, with drought and competition from other farming activities contributing to the decrease.

Strong international demand for logs drove a 9% rise, to 43,800ha, in the area of exotic timber harvested in the year to June 2010, while the volume harvested was up 12% to 21.2m cu m.

The wheat harvest rose 10% to 444,900 tonnes, with the area harvested rising to 54,800ha from 53,900ha. The yield was 8.1 tonnes per hectare in 2010, up from 7.5 tonnes the year before.



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