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Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2008 (Provisional)
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  10 February 2009

This release contains provisional results from the 2008 Agricultural Production Survey. The survey covered livestock and arable farming, and forestry, and included questions on farming practices.

The 2008 survey is part of the current programme of censuses and surveys of agricultural production. This programme began with a census in 2002 and then annual sample surveys were carried out from 2003 to 2006. A census was held in 2007.

Estimates from sample surveys are subject to sampling errors. Refer to the Technical notes of this release for further information.

These results are provisional and can change after further processing and analysis of data. Final results from the 2008 survey, including results at regional level, are due for release in May 2009.

Figures in this release have been rounded. All percentages have been calculated using unrounded figures.



Sheep numbers at 30 June 2008 were provisionally estimated at 33.9 million. The national sheep flock was last recorded at this level in 1950. Sheep numbers have fallen by 12 percent since 2007, when there were 38.5 million sheep.

The number of breeding ewes (two-tooth and older) put to ram was estimated at 23.4 million in 2008. This is down 10 percent on the 2007 figure of 26.1 million. There were 1.5 million ewe hoggets put to ram in 2008, down from 2.5 million in 2007.

There were 30.9 million lambs tailed in the year to 30 June 2008, down 6 percent on the previous year. Numbers in 2008 were back to a level last recorded in 1960.

 Graph, Total Lamb.


The national dairy herd was provisionally estimated to have reached 5.6 million in 2008, which was 6 percent higher than in 2007.

In 2008, there were an estimated 4.3 million dairy cows and heifers in milk or calf. This number is 172,600 above the 2007 figure. The number of dairy replacement cattle (dairy cows and heifers not in milk, rising one-year-old dairy cows and heifers, and calves) was estimated at 1.2 million in 2008. The ratio between the replacement herd and the milking herd has increased since 2005. It was 26.9 percent in 2008, up from 22.5 percent in 2005. Graph, Total Diary Cattle.


Provisional results show that beef cattle numbers declined to 4.1 million at 30 June 2008. This estimate is 6 percent lower than in 2007 when there were 4.4 million beef cattle.

Graph, Total Beef Cattle. 

Numbers in the beef breeding herd continued to fall and were estimated at 1.1 million in 2008. This was 8 percent lower than the 2007 figure of 1.2 million.


Total deer numbers were estimated at 1.2 million in 2008, down from 1.4 million in 2007. Deer numbers have fallen in recent years, and in 2008 were back to the 1994 level. Breeding stock numbers continued to fall, with an estimated 596,900 female deer mated in 2008. This compares with 680,100 reported in the 2007 Agricultural Production Census. 

 Graph, Total Deer.

Deer numbers for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 are not directly comparable with 2002 and 2003 figures. Changes made to the questions about deer from 2004 onwards have resulted in improved estimates of deer numbers.


The area of exotic forest harvested during the year to 31 March 2008 was 42,100 hectares, compared with 40,800 hectares in the previous year. The 2008 figure was 10 percent less than the 46,700 hectares recorded in the 2002 Agricultural Production Census.

In the year to 31 March 2008, the areas of new plantings (on land not previously in forest) and replantings were 2,700 hectares and 33,100 hectares, respectively. 

Grain crops


The area of wheat harvested increased to 42,500 hectares during the year to 30 June 2008, up from 40,500 hectares in 2007. There were 345,300 tonnes harvested in 2008, similar to the 344,400 tonnes harvested the previous year.


 Provisional results from the 2008 survey showed that barley production increased in both the area harvested, and tonnage harvested, during the year to 30 June 2008. The area harvested increased 30 percent, to 67,000 hectares in 2008, up from 51,500 hectares in 2007. The tonnage harvested increased 22 percent to 409,200 tonnes.

Maize grain

An estimated 18,500 hectares and 210,400 tonnes of maize grain were harvested in the year to 30 June 2008. In the 2007 year, 17,000 hectares and 185,600 tonnes were harvested.

For technical information contact:
Andrew Chou
Auckland 09 920 9332

Next release ...

Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2008 (final) will be released on 14 May 2009

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