The Sheep Deer and Cattle Report: The autumn roars for stags and deer and cattle breeders, as prices for young stock reach record levels


Lamb schedules rose strongly again this week, as the chilled market remains steady, but limited supply has boosted frozen returns.

All lamb markets report firm demand, and in Europe middle cuts have reached historical highs.

The seasonal reduction in the sheep kill has stimulated an increase in demand for pelts as tanners look to improve supplies for the months ahead.

Saleyard prime lambs are now averaging over $110 per head in the south but about $10 more in the North Island, and shortages and feed have driven store lambs into the $90-$100 mark.

Rams are out now in the southern flocks and good feed conditions suggest ewes will be cycling well and that could result in above average scanning results.

Hogget lambing has now become an important contributor to bonus lambs in many farms flocks, and this excellent autumn will see more animals at target weights able to conceive a year earlier.


Last week’s South Island sale saw only a 67% clearance of the bales offered, but prices did remain steady at the present low level.

Since February about 30,000 bales have been unsold or withdrawn from auction, to be either sold privately or reintroduced later, and this could delay any upturn further, until the backlog clears.

The value of exports sold dropped 29% in the last 3 months, and wool now is only the 17th most valuable commodity exported from NZ.

Manufacturing beef prices fell further this week, but exporters report that with many selling much of  this product forward, and as the cow kill is late, prices should not drop too far.

Other grades held steady as did the local trade beef schedules which are 50c/kg ahead of a similar stage last year and only 10c/kg behind last years highs.

Calf prices continue at their unrelenting levels and surplus feed and the above average weights of later calves, is only adding to this demand.

Prime beef values have not moved anywhere near as much as store which could result in very tight margins for finishers if schedule values follow the traditional course.

A National Farm Assurance scheme has been launched as processors and industry officials have created a single form, that avoids duplication from different companies.

Silver Fern Farms plans to consolidate their bobby calf processing facilities by killing all Paeroa stock at the new upgraded plant at Waitoa.

No staff will be lost but efficencies will be gained and costs lowered from this plan.

Log prices are now at their highest for 7 years and some are harvesting trees from on farm woodlots to compliment income.

Venison schedules were steady this week, but these strong out of season prices has given the sector a major boost.

Cervena is now to be marketed in Germany during the Northern Hemisphere summer as this trial program endeavors to encourage these traditional autumn eaters to taste this product at other times of year.

Deer farmers are being urged to complete their farm environment plans as they look to “keep the bureacrats at bay” and prove that they can minimize any environmental damage through sustainable farming practices.

Keeping un mated stags settled during the roar is a challenge and careful management often giving animals plenty of room, tree slash to rub and avoiding paddocks with water to minimise wallowing are techniques managers use during this period.