When I say New Zealand, what is it that you think of? For many, it’s the beautiful coastlines, the mountain views, and the hillsides filled with flocks upon flocks of sheep! However, did you ever stop to think about the cattle that also roam these rugged pastures?
In New Zealand, beef cattle and sheep are considered complimentary production animals and are usually farmed together. This is largely because they both can make use of rough and hilly conditions that make up the countryside. Many believe that beef production takes on a secondary role in New Zealand agriculture; however, in reality, beef plays a vital role in the Kiwi culture.
It is estimated that there are approximately 23,958 sheep and cattle ranchers in New Zealand who raise nearly 5 million beef animals and 46 million sheep. The ratio of cattle to sheep may seem staggering, however in recent years, it seems that the tides may be changing. Beef production in New Zealand has been steadily rising over the past 15 years, increasing 23 percent since 1998; sheep production has moved in the opposite direction. The main cause for this change in trends is that New Zealand farmers recognize a larger profit margin in the market for beef products compared to lamb.
The main contributor to beef’s profitability in New Zealand comes from exports. Although New Zealand possesses a very small portion of the world’s total number of beef cattle, they contribute 10 percent of total beef exports worldwide! It is extremely impressive that the Kiwis can have this large of an impact on the international beef community with less than 1 percent of the world’s total cattle numbers.
It is exciting to see beef cattle playing such an important role in a country that is predominantly thought of as a land of lamb and wool. Even being out numbered nine to one when compared to sheep, beef animals play an instrumental role in providing for the Kiwi economy and the supply of beef worldwide.
Stay tuned for more New Zealand beef news throughout the month of December!
All for the love of beef,