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Livestock numbers under the microscope

12-Feb-2021 15:00:00


The recently released Climate Change Commission Report highlighted that under current government policies, New Zealand will not achieve the Government’s target of being Zero Carbon by 2050.

It also suggests that one of the measures that needs to be taken to reach the emissions targets is to reduce livestock numbers by 15% by 2030.

“Beef and sheep farmers would have reason to feel aggrieved if this was foisted upon them,” according to Guy Trafford, Rural Editor for, who points out that beef cattle numbers have dropped by 15% since 1991 and sheep by 53%.

Statistics show that beef numbers have flattened over the past 10 years and sheep numbers continue to decline, but dairy cow numbers have nearly doubled in the past three decades. However even dairy cow numbers have declined by around 6% over the past three years.

If these trends continue, Trafford’s view is that the necessary reductions in livestock numbers may be achieved without too much political intervention. He also notes that New Zealand dairy farmers have been shown to have the lowest rate of carbon emissions of any dairy producers globally. The draft report is open for consultation until 14 March with the final report to be released on 31 May.


This article is featured in Harcourts Lifestyle & Rural Property Focus, Issue 1 2021.

Topics: Rural & Lifestyle Properties, climate, livestock