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Agricultural Production Statistics: June 2016 (final)
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  10 May 2017

This release contains final results for key livestock, forestry, and arable and horticultural crops from the 2016 Agricultural Production Survey. Statistics in this release may differ from the provisional statistics published in January 2017. Since the provisional release, we have received more survey responses and done more data processing and analysis.

Figures in this release are rounded. All percentage changes are calculated using unrounded figures.

Dairy number increases 2 percent nationally

At 30 June 2016, the number of dairy cattle had increased 2 percent from 30 June 2015, to 6.6 million, up 133,000. The number in the North Island increased 6 percent (238,000), while the number in the South Island decreased 4 percent (104,000).

Waikato, Otago, and Manawatu-Wanganui were the regions with the largest shifts in dairy cattle numbers between 2015 and 2016. Total dairy cattle in Manawatu-Wanganui increased by 73,000 (16 percent) and in Waikato by 93,000 (5 percent). The number in Otago fell by 73,000 (19 percent). 

The national milking herd increased 2.9 percent, while the replacement herd decreased 2.5 percent during this period. 

The increase in total dairy cattle came at a time of subdued international milk prices and a lower milk solid payouts.

Graph, Dairy cows and heifers in milk or in calf, by island, at 30 June 2002 to 2016.

Sheep number continues to decline

In 2016 there were 27.6 million sheep, a  5 percent decrease when compared with 2015. The number of sheep in the South Island declined by 719,000 (5 percent), and in the North Island the total number was down 818,000 (6 percent).

Dry conditions in the South Island and facial eczema in the North Island both contributed to the decreases.

Regions with the most-significant decreases were Manawatu-Wanganui, with 479,000 fewer sheep (down 9 percent) and Southland, with 361,000 (9 percent) fewer than in 2015. 

Graph, Sheep in North and South islands, at 30 June 2002 to 2016.

No change in number of beef cattle

The total number of beef cattle was unchanged when compared with 2015. There were 3.5 million beef cattle at 30 June 2016.

Beef farming is mainly in the North Island, with 2.5 million beef cattle. The South Island had 1 million beef cattle.

Regions with the largest increases were Waikato and Canterbury, with increases of  35,000 (8 percent) and 25,000 (6 percent), respectively. Regions with the largest decreases were Taranaki and Manawatu-Wanganui, down 22,000 (17 percent) and 24,000 (4 percent), respectively.

Graph, Beef cattle in the North and South islands, at 30 June 2002 to 2016.

Deer number falls below 900,000

The number of deer in New Zealand continued to decrease, to be 835,000 at 30 June 2016. The number has been falling since 2004, when it peaked at 1.8 million.

In the South Island, the decrease was 6 percent (34,000), while in the North Island the deer number was down 11 percent (32,000).

Manawatu-Wanganui and Otago regions had the largest decreases in deer, with falls of 15,000 (24 percent) and 14,000 (11 percent), respectively.

The number of mated female deer continued to drop, as it has since 2013.

Graph, Deer in North and South islands, at 30 June 2002 to 2016.

Good harvest for wheat


For the year ending 30 June 2016, 49,900 hectares of wheat was harvested, up 5 percent from 2015. A total of 459,400 tonnes was harvested, which equated to a yield per hectare of 9.2 tonnes. This was more than the 8.7 tonnes per hectare in 2015. The dry summer was conducive to the good wheat harvest achieved. Canterbury accounted for 81 percent of the total area harvested.


The 51,900 hectares of barley harvested during the year ended 30 June 2016 was down 19 percent (12,300 hectares) from 2015.

Barley is grown predominantly in Canterbury, which accounted for 67 percent of the total area harvested. Otago, Southland, and Manawatu-Wanganui are also barley-growing regions.


The area of maize grain harvested was 18,000 hectares for the year ending 30 June 2016, down 9 percent from 2015. The North Island had 95 percent of the maize area harvested. Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, and Bay of Plenty are the main growing regions.

New area planted in exotic forest increases

During the year ending 31 March 2016, the new area of exotic forest planted increased 20 percent, to 3,700 hectares. During the same period, the area of exotic forest replanted was down 5 percent on 2015, to 37,800 hectares. The area replanted decreased 26 percent (2,800 hectares) in the South Island, while the North Island was up 2 percent (600 hectares).

There were 47,500 hectares of exotic timber harvested, a 1 percent decrease from 2015. Harvesting decreased in the South Island, down 24 percent to 9,800 hectares, while in the North Island it was up 7 percent to 37,700 hectares. There were 25.4 million cubic metres of exotic timber harvested in 2016, little changed from 2015.

Tables and maps available

For more detailed agricultural data, and a geospatial representation of the change between 2006 and 2016 for dairy cattle and sheep numbers, see the Excel tables and maps in the ‘Downloads’ box.

Export statistics relevant to livestock categories

Export statistics provide a useful context when interpreting livestock numbers. The following table combines exports into categories that can be easily compared with the livestock numbers in this release.  

 Export statistics for year ended December 2016
 Export group


 Percent of total exports













 Live animals      



 Source: Stats NZ


Overseas merchandise trade datasets has more information about primary sector export statistics.

Export categories for agriculture in DataInfo+  has a full description of the export group.



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