After subsidies were removed from farming in 1981, sheep numbers fell for the next 10 years. So did both the total tonnage and value of sheep meat exports (lamb and mutton). From 1993 until 2005, the tonnage of exports was relatively constant even though total sheep numbers continued to decline. This was largely due to improvements in lambing percentages and management. Over the same period the value of exports increased as a result of higher lamb prices in the UK.
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Source: New Zealand official yearbook, 1985–2006