The Sheep Deer and Cattle Report: Beef market goes off the boil but deer farmers worry the venison market will get overheated


Lamb schedules rose this week, as the Christmas chilled meat programs start in a still uncertain market, but helped by supply shortages and low stocks.

Good weather during most of the lambing period should have ensured excellent survival rates, but every lamb will be needed for any profits at prices suggested at the moment.

Feed conditons nationally are reasonable, too wet up north and too dry on the east coasts of both islands, but mild conditions have ensured reasonable early grass growth.

Many farmers have invested in speciality forages such as plantain and clover for lamb finishing, and these have enabled more animals to be finished earlier and heavier, and avoid having to sell store during that summer price low period. 

The Shanghai Maling Silver Fern Farms partnership received OIO approval, and with this last regulatory road block removed becomes unconditional, and the new company is due to start on the 4th January next year.

With farm confidence in the red meat sector falling, on the back of poor sheep meat and wool prices, this deal could be a game changer for sheep and beef operators.

Local trade schedules have been stable for weeks now but as the chilled Christmas export demand builds in a short supply market, price pressure could grow.

The Government and private businesses are to invest $31 million into growing the sheep milk industry, as a niche opportunity for intensive agriculture that is more sensitive to the environment than dairy cows.


This week’s South Island wool auction was again weak and only 68% of the offering met vendors expectations.

Finer wools suffered the most, especially faulted merino and mid micron types, but coarser crossbred fibres bounced off the bottom in a flat sale.

NZ Merino has bought Silver Fern Farms share of the Silere Alpine Origin Merino meat brand, as they look to return the full benefits of this deal back to their shareholders.

They also report a profit from their wool trading as they now secure 70% of product by multi year contracts, and have declared a dividend to over 500 fine wool farmers.


More beef schedule falls this week, as the US market remains very quiet and importers are looking to drive prices down to domestic levels.

Reports are emerging that parts of the US beef sector are at crisis level and some face bankruptcy, made worse by beef giant Brazil regaining access to that market.

The prime markets remain steady, and finished animals at the saleyards as yet have not been affected by traditional ‘spring fever” prices. 

However a 20c/kg fall in the north and 10c/kg in the south for local trade schedules could indicate shortages are over in the prime beef market, after an earlier kill in the autumn.

Prices for store stock are still ahead of prime as shortages and grass are driving the market, but after US reports about prospects for our lean beef markets some readjustments could soon come for our younger dairy beef animals that take two years to finish.

Broom gall moth has been successful in controlling this weed in Marlborough, and its introduction into Canterbury will be a welcome tool to control this weed, when sprays have proven uneconomic on lower productive land.

The spring bull sales have started with large numbers of yearling bulls offered to the dairy sector and most are reporting good clearances in the $2000-$4000/hd range as purchasers look to make their surplus bobby calves worth more.



Steady venison schedules this week, with many hoping these levels are the peak, as further price pressure could see a return to the boom bust cycle seen in the past.

All markets remain firm as the early animals are being harvested for very good money, and repay the long term commitment to farmers who stayed in the game through the tough times.

One processor reports a good lift in sales for the venison in NZ on the back of the tourist boom and local customers now educated to the qualities of this tender lean meat.