The Sheep Deer and Cattle Report: Dry and windy cause fire issues in the east of both islands, as summer proper starts and drought areas grow


Lamb schedules eased slightly as processors report they now expect to meet Easter trade commitments, over the next couple of weeks.

Post Easter pricing is as yet uncertain, although demand remains strong in the main market destinations, but returns are being hampered by a very strong currency.

Positively it was also reported that lamb flap prices are at record levels into China and that less lamb product is being frozen down.

Mutton schedules are now at yearly highs as demand remains strong all over the globe, although one processor reports difficulty moving very heavy mutton carcasses.

Big numbers were traded at the Temuka ewe fair and averaged $115/head, but there is still little indication that the trend of lower sheep numbers has bottomed.

While at the Lorneville saleyards in Southland, two tooth ewes averaged $152 a head (with tops over $200 ). Ewe lambs averaged $140/hd, to once again prove the southern province is where the most optimistic sheep farmers abide.

North Island store lamb prices are at yearly lows, although animals are being purchased readily by farmers on the western areas of the island and by areas with feed in the south.

The hot dry weather has brought major fire outbreaks in Canterbury and Hawkes Bay as tinder dry pastures ignite and spread quickly in windy conditions and some stock losses have been recorded.



This week’s North Island auction saw prices stabilize at the very low base, in a sale again offering lower volumes than were rostered.

Low lambs wool prices may restrict the number of southern works animals shorn, but at this stage processors have made no price adjustments for wooly lambs.

Spending approval has been granted for the support of a Central Otago release of a new rabbit control virus that awaits regulatory approval, and farmers will welcome this additional tool to help fight this pest.


More steady schedules for beef this week as imported bull and cow prices improve in the US, although domestic prices are under pressure in that country.

Reports suggest the US beef herd is rapidly recovering and is now at its highest level since 2010, which could dampen demand for future imported product.

Prices are expected to ease as the local grilling season ends in NZ, but South Island local trade prices have held steady for longer than expected.

The Russian ban will have an impact on NZ exports but mainly in the beef offal trade, as officials investigate on how these irregularities occurred.


More steady venison schedules this week, as deer farmers enjoy prices that are at least $50/hd better than last year and rekindle interest in expanding the breeding herd.

Tagging of weaners will have started and managers will be trying to plan a low stress separation for their animals next month.

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Lifestyle blocks with grass not grazed properly along with plantings add to the fire risk.