The Sheep Deer and Cattle Report: Wet winter tightens feed supplies for early lambs in the North Island

LAMB

More small chilled lamb schedule price lifts this week, but little change to the gloomy Chinese and UK markets for NZ product, although one processor has suggested lower numbers will increase demand for Christmas orders, and the recent currency’s fall against the pound, the euro, and US dollar have been helpful.

Economic conditions in China with it’s shaky sharemarket, and in Europe with fears the Greek situation could spread to other countries, coupled with good domestic production in the UK and China, are major handbrakes to a rapid turn around of confidence for the lamb export sector.

Lambs are arriving in lower altitude farms of the North Island onto wet soils and low pasture covers, as managers look for an early spring to kick start growth, and grow animals to be ready for harvest before the predicted dry El Nino conditions kick in.

In areas that were not affected by the dry, scannng percentages have been above average, and fears build that lack of feed at lambing could affect survival rates.

Sheep farmers have successfully supplemented their incomes in the past few years with dairy support and the downturn in that sector will hurt profits and could push beef store stock demand higher than it should be.

Silver Fern Farms Alpine merino hogget contract has been priced at $6/kg to continue this creative marketing campaign and reaffirm the importance of this income option for high country farmers.

More signs this week that Silver Fern Farms are close to confirming their capital raising initiatives as they suspend trading on its shares and also announce they are selling their share in a rendering plant in the South Island.

Both co-op shareholders have achieved the numbers for a special general meeting to discuss merger proposals, but directors remind reformists this will be no directive for change.

In-lamb ewes are appearing at saleyards but most are only making about $100/hd, as most sheep farmers take a conservative view on future prospects, although at Temuka in a small yarding of 3000, many good ewes with high scanning percentages sold at $140-$150 a head.

WOOL

A small North Island auction for mainly early shorn and second shear wools was fully firm on recent values, helped by the lower currency, but low volumes masked the present weak demand out of China and Europe.

Early mid micron indicators show prices that are well ahead of last years levels and it is hoped that these levels will flow over to merino’s finer fibres which last year returned disappointing returns.

BEEF

More big beef price rises as global shortages drive demand, and store and prime animals in saleyards have now breached the $3/kg lwt barrier, as farmers with feed chase animals with early finishing potential.

Reports from the US reveal their dairy farmers are also rearing their surplus calves for dairy beef, which will eat into a market NZ producers once claimed as their own.

With such a long lead time to finishing for young animals caution is being urged on prices paid, as early signs are already being seen by consumers who are resistant to the very high prices for the product.

DEER

Some small venison schedule lifts this week as positive demand and a more favourable currency, starts the chilled harvest season.

Industry leaders report they are looking to add further value to the lower priced cuts as the higher end premium is close to an optimum in competition with other proteins.

Early August sees the casting of buttons by stags and heralds the start of the new velvet growing season, and growers will be hoping for more of the same for this specialist activity that has recently yielded some of the best per hectare returns of any livestock operation.