New Zealand’s ratio of sheep to humans has fallen below five to one – the lowest on record.
The country of just over five million people is famous for several things – including the All Blacks, Jacinda Ardern and have more sheep than men.
But herds have dwindled since the peak sheep days of the 1980s, when there were 22 sheep for every person.
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In 2022, the national flock of sheep numbered 25.3 million, according to Stats NZ – a decrease of 400,000 from the previous year.
The national sheep count was first recorded in the 1850s. This is the first time the ratio has fallen below five to one, said Jason Attewell, general manager of economic and environmental information at Stats NZ.
“Australia currently has three times as many sheep as New Zealand, although their ratio is only around three sheep to every Australian,” he added.
The drop in sheep numbers is due to a range of factors, including the shift from wool to synthetic materials and the sale of farmland for forestry.