New Zealand’s ratio of sheep to humans has dropped below five to one – the lowest ever recorded.
The country of just over five million is famous for a few things – among them, the All Blacks, Jacinda Ardern and having more sheep than people.
But flocks have been declining since the peak sheep days of the 1980s, when there were 22 sheep for every person.
In 2022, the national sheep flock tallied 25.3 million, according to Stats NZ – a decrease of 400,000 on the previous year.
National sheep numbers were first recorded in the 1850s. This marks the first time the ratio has dropped below five to one, said Jason Attewell, Stats NZ general manager of economic and environment insights.
“Australia currently has three times as many sheep as New Zealand, though their ratio is only around three sheep to every Aussie,” he added.
Declining sheep numbers are down to a range of factors, including a shift from wool to synthetic materials and selling farmland for forestry.