The Sheep, Deer and Cattle Report: Kill well ahead, as farmers destock before Christmas


More reductions in lamb schedules as the South Island kill is now about 30% ahead of last year, and space is at a premium with rapid destocking for the dry.

Lambs are being killed at lighter weights, but the hot weather has allowed good growth rates with the lower stocking  compensating for any lack of surplus feed.

Farmers have responded quickly to the weather warnings and the mutton kill illustrates that well, with the cull ewe harvest 72% ahead of last year, as managers make room for younger stock and future breeding animals.

Mutton, lamb forequarters, and flaps are attracting weak demand and prices are falling sharply, influenced mainly by the lack of activity out of China.

Also worrying, is volumes are back for chilled lamb into the UK, driven by domestic production in that country up 7%, a strong buy local campaign, and the currencies strength against the Euro making British exports less competitive into Europe.

The latest livestock survey reveals sheep numbers are back another 300,000 to 29.5 million and at these present prices will continue to fall as farmer look for more profitable options.

Two robots have been recently installed at Alliance’s sheep plant at Timaru for brisket opening and evisceration operations, eliminating these historically risky and difficult jobs from the labour chain.

Two new directors have been elected to Alliances board and one for Silver Fern Farms replacing retiring long serving participants, and it is hope this new blood will help improve the companies profits and plant efficiencies.

At the double island wool auction last week prices eased for most types on the back of higher than anticipated volumes, a firmer currency, and weaker market interest.

There was however few passings and values this year are 50-60c clean per kg ahead of the similar sale last year and lambs wool 127c better.

Beef schedules eased again this week as another sharp drop was seen in the US as imported bull and cow prices both fell in response to excess beef stocks in the market.

Processors report the big NZ cow cull has peaked and the Australian kill is now back to pre drought levels, and in the Middle East and SE Asia, demand for chilled beef is building.

And with significant rain in the South Island drought areas helping, on top of an early kill, this may ease the supply pressure for the start of 2016.


Summer frozen venison schedules continue to fall but more on the firming currency that has unexpectedly lifted and has taken the cream out of venison prices, even though frozen demand is strong.

The results of velvet competitions are now being publicized and top heads in the commercial sections are returning $600-$1100 per animal and illustrate how profitable this niche industry can be for specialist operators.