A study has revealed the number of sheep in New Zealand has dropped by 2.3 percent due to drought and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand's annual stock number survey shows there are now 26.21 million sheep in the country as of June 2020.
The drop is due to a lack of hoggets from destocking in response to dry conditions.
COVID-19 also contributed to the reduction as international trade was disrupted, sale yards weren't allowed to operate, and social distancing requirements meant processing capacities were restricted.
Beef + Lamb NZ has predicted the national output of lambs to be 4.2 percent lower than spring 2019. Numbers have been in decline for a while with New Zealand home to 57.85 million sheep in June 1990.
Beef + Lamb NZ economic service chief economist Andrew Burt told Federated Farmers the effects of the destocking will be felt for years to come.
"The impact of the combined decisions to destock younger animals this year will be fewer stock in future years." he said. "Capital breeding stock may have been retained this year, but the effects of the disruption in 2019 to 2020 will be felt for a couple of years."
The amount beef cattle in the country increased by 0.1 percent due to the level 4 lockdown preventing processing which meant older cattle were retained.