Making the most of our reduced lamb crop

Thursday 24 November 2011, 6:29PM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand

<p>With Beef+Lamb NZ confirming that the 2011/12 lamb crop, the second smallest since 1956, Federated Farmers is urging farmers to maximise value from their stock.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s gutting the best trading conditions in a decade correspond with our second smallest lamb crop in 55 years,&rdquo; says Jeannette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat &amp; Fibre chairperson.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We know from Beef+Lamb NZ and from our processors, that we&rsquo;ve got the markets. It&rsquo;s just that we don&rsquo;t have the available product.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re now feeling the latent impacts of the Gisborne and Hawke&rsquo;s Bay droughts as well as the 2010 spring storms that struck the Manawatu, Southland and South Otago. In some key sheep farming areas, flocks are still in the process of being rebuilt.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;While I&rsquo;m still tailing, we knew from scans that this was going to be an average season. It sounds counter-intuitive, but fertility was knocked back due to the benign autumn and winter. With plenty of feed and our animals in peak physical condition fertility levels fell.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As we start to consign our lambs for processing, Federated Farmers advises farmers to talk with their companies. This is to ensure the best return for the processor and for us as farmers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;With lower numbers there&rsquo;s real potential to take store lambs to finishing and farmers need to talk with their companies about programming this. Dong this will help build trust and from trust comes an all-important long term relationship; a key finding from the red meat strategy.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The one thing we know for certain is that while the lamb crop is down, farm gate prices will fall as more lambs are sent for processing. It&rsquo;s supply and demand at work really.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Federated Farmers also expects meat will soon mirror the recent correction in milk prices; globalDairyTrade fell for months before rebounding only last week. We expect that pattern to repeat with meat, especially with our exposure to Europe and North America.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The advantage of being a soft commodities economy is that eventually, demand outstrips supply. Globally, sheep numbers are down but the demand is out there. It&rsquo;s why farmers need to commit to companies with those companies showing equal commitment to farmers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Developing new markets through free trade agreements is a medium term but welcome solution. Right now, farmers and processors need to talk with one another to ensure we all make the most of our reduced lamb crop,&rdquo; Mrs Maxwell concluded.</p>