Despite strong grass growth as a result of the high rainfall, stock in many areas haven't done particularly well because of lower sunlight hours, lush feed, and the flow-on impact on nutritional quality of the pasture, Heather Stacy, Alliance Group general manager livestock and shareholder services, says.

''Farmers are holding on to lambs, but even with increased stocking rates and high conservation of baleage and silage, some are finding it challenging to maintain pasture quality,'' Stacy said.

She said higher lambing percentages with more multiple births this season had meant lower birth weights and that lambs were taking longer to finish.

''We expect growth rates of stock to begin to take off now as conditions settle and we're encouraging farmers to keep in regular contact with their livestock representative to ensure that they have stock booked in for processing ahead of any potential pinch-point in plant capacity.''

Advertisement

Stacy said "Alliance will shortly begin processing for the important Easter chilled lamb programme for our UK and Europe markets. This is an important period for the co-operative because chilled product commands a greater premium than frozen.''

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer. Photo / File
Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer. Photo / File

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer said that the abundance of feed had affected stock flows, especially for lamb, through December, with stock being used to manage pastures which rebounded after the regular rains through the period.

''The low stock flows have made for a particularly challenging December for the business,'' Limmer said.

''While not ideal for us, we expect the stock to come forward over coming weeks to beat the coming correction in farm-gate prices and before stock get too fat and fall out of spec for Easter chilled orders.''

Limmer also said that despite the increasing uncertainty around Brexit and the negative activity in the UK this week, indications were that port congestion would be avoided.

''We've been advised that the UK authorities will be accepting consignments which have EU certification and documentation for a period extending six months beyond the Brexit date, and will not be instigating additional customs checks at border ports,'' he said.

''This gives us confidence that product will continue to flow into the UK as per normal, which should minimise disruption to our chilled arrivals for Easter.''

However, he said while the UK importation criteria looked clearer, it was still expected that product flowing from the UK into the EU will face new certification and documentation, as well as tariffs added to most products.

Advertisement