Dairy Puts Squeeze On Sheep

UK - NEW Zealand sheep farming is feeling the squeeze in the south as dairy cow numbers have increased 600 per cent in 25 years.
calendar icon 13 April 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Farm conversion should see Fonterra achieve record production in the 2007-08 season, but it will also maintain the pressure on land available for sheep farming.

The giant dairy co-op is expecting a record 12 million kilograms of milksolids next season, with most of the increase coming from the Canterbury and Southland regions, according to Fonterra’s sustainable milk growth general manager Mark Leslie said.

It is also upbeat on next season’s payout to farmers, with record international dairy prices looking to translate into a figure closer to $5/kg MS.

South Island is now home to 1.5 million dairy cattle, which is over 600 per cent higher than the 225,000 head in 1981. But while the South Island’s dairy herd grew by 100,000 in 2006, sheep numbers just managed to hold the line.

But Southland sheep farmer Martin Hall said those numbers would not hold for much longer and the sun was setting on Southland’s sheep industry.

Unless the sheep industry cleaned up its act there would be no room left for lamb growth in Southland, Hall said.

“Sheep farmers at present are in an information vacuum. Our companies need to talk and communicate with farmers, as we hold the future direction of the industry in our hands.

“If we are unsuccessful at restructuring the industry, sheep will be a very rare sight on the Southland and Canterbury plains.”

Source: Farmers Guardian
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