NZ beef cattle numbers finished the past fiscal year 1% higher year-on-year, to an estimated 3.88 million head, with the growth underpinned by an increase in North Island cattle numbers (Beef and Lamb New Zealand).
Accounting for 71% of NZ’s beef herd, cattle numbers in the North Island increased 3.6% year-on-year, to 2.84 million head.
The improvement in numbers was underpinned by a favourable season across the North Island during 2011-12.
However, South Island cattle numbers decreased 5.6% year-on-year over the same period, to 1.04 million head.
The fall can be attributed to less older cattle being carried through winter, as well as young cattle reaching suitable slaughter weights earlier as a result of good feed conditions.
Total beef breeding cows during 2011-12 remained unchanged on the previous year, at 1.05 million head, although cow numbers in the North Island did improve 3.3% year-on-year, to 690,000 head.
Total cow numbers continued to track well below previous years, with breeding stock down 6% on the five-year average.
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