Weaning has been off to a late start for most in the South Island, Silver Fern Farms head of communications and sustainability manager Justin Courtney said last week.

"Due to the later season we are finding less capacity constraints than normal across our South Island sheep plants, right now" he said.

Silver Fern Farms livestock agent Cameron Rowland said the season had kicked off "a good two weeks" later than usual.

"We only really got a couple weeks done before everything shut down for Christmas".

Advertisement
Farmhand Fiona Short pulls out lambs to be dagged before they are sent away to the meat processor. Photo / Alice Scott
Farmhand Fiona Short pulls out lambs to be dagged before they are sent away to the meat processor. Photo / Alice Scott

Rowland said lamb numbers and weights had been back for all of his clients after a poor lambing season and a late spring.

"Some guys are less than half straight off mum than they normally would".

"All the drafters I have been talking to are saying the same thing. A lot of the guys who have been in the job a long time are saying how tough it's been for everyone".

''The good news is that the schedule at the moment is ahead of last year and cull ewes are worth good money".

Danny Hailes, General Manager Livestock and Shareholder Services for Alliance Group said there had been significant pricing volatility across sheep and beef items into the Chinese market, which had been "compounded in part by a general softening in other markets, including US imported lean meat".

Farmer George Hope removes the dags off a lamb before it boards the truck. Photo / Alice Scott
Farmer George Hope removes the dags off a lamb before it boards the truck. Photo / Alice Scott

"Alliance has had to adjust schedule pricing to reflect the global market conditions and demand for our products. That said, prices for most species remain strong, relative to the same time last year.

"Despite the current uncertainty, there is reasonable demand for beef and sheep meat in other markets and sectors. We remain of the view the medium-term outlook for China and global meat demand will continue to be strong" Hailes said.