The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand has dipped for the second year, while beef cattle numbers increased strongly in 2018, the country’s statistics department Stats NZ said on Thursday.
Provisional figures from the 2018 agricultural production census showed dairy cattle numbers fell 1 percent to 6.4 million in June 2018, Stats NZ said.
“This followed a similar small dip in 2017, though overall dairy cattle numbers have been relatively steady since 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said in a statement.
Total dairy cattle were at their highest level in 2014 at 6.7 million, Pitts said.
Dairy products are a huge export for New Zealand. The value of milk powder, butter, and cheese exports for the year ended June 2018 was 14.1 billion NZ dollars (9.5 billion U.S. dollars), statistics showed.
Beef cattle numbers rose for the second year in a row, up 5 percent to 3.8 million in 2018, Pitts said.
Total sheep numbers eased again in 2018, down 1 percent to 27.3 million, he said, adding sheep numbers have fallen in 10 of the past 12 years, in total down about 12.8 million from about 40.1 million in 2006.
“New Zealand now has 5.6 sheep for every person, after peaking at 22 sheep for every person in 1982,” Pitts said.
A large fall in sheep and beef cattle numbers since 1990 means overall stock units have fallen in the past 28 years, despite a rise in dairy cattle numbers, he said.
The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest report showed that about 52,000 dairy cattle have been culled as part of the response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.