NZ sheep population lowest since 1850’s

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Latest data about New Zealand’s sheep show numbers are dropping.

For the first time since records began in the 1850s, the ratio of sheep to people has fallen below 5:1. Stats NZ’s recent survey on farming production and practices revealed that the national flock stood at 25.3 million sheep last year, a 2% decline of 400,000 sheep compared to the previous year.

Back in 1982, New Zealand gained fame for its remarkable ratio of 22 sheep per person. Interestingly, although Australia currently boasts three times the number of sheep as New Zealand, its ratio stands at only three sheep for every Aussie.

While the decline in sheep numbers can be partially attributed to the global wool industry’s gradual decline, with people opting for cheaper synthetic alternatives, there is another important factor at play.  The increased conversion of farms to forestry is likely contributing to the reduction in sheep numbers.

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