New Zealand's most often quoted statistic - the sheep to people ratio - has taken another hit, according to Statistics NZ.
The country now has fewer than six sheep for each person - down from 1982's historic high, when there were over 70 million sheep, or 22 for every person, the department said.
The total number of sheep was down by just over 5 per cent between June 2015 and June 2016, it said.
Provisional figures show that the number of sheep in New Zealand fell by 1.5 million, down to 27.6 million at 30 June 2016.
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"Between 2006 and 2016 the number of sheep reduced from just over 40 million, a drop of around 30 per cent," agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said in a statement.
In the year to 30 June 2016, beef cattle and deer numbers also fell, but the number of dairy cattle remained steady - at 6.5 million.
These provisional figures are from the 2016 Agricultural Production Survey, which Statistics NZ conducted in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries.