This page explains the farm class system we use to categorise farm types in our economic reports – and how understanding your farm class can help you to benchmark your farm.
What is "all classes"?
The all classes distributions are weighted averages of individual farm class data to correctly portray a whole region or the New Zealand lambing percentage distribution.
They help you to evaluate where your lambing percentage sits nationally, within your region and within a particular farm class. If there aren’t enough observations within a class and region you’ll need to compare your farm with its whole farm class or your all classes region distribution.
Estimated number of commercial sheep and beef farms in each class:
|Sheep and beef farm survey 2019-20 farm class||Estimated farms|
|1||South Island High country||200|
|2||South Island Hill country||620|
|3||North Island Hard hill country||920|
|4||North Island Hill country||3,055|
|5||North Island finishing||1,045|
|6||South Island Finishing breeding||1,820|
|7||South Island finishing||1,040|
|8||South Island Mixed finishing||465|
|Total all classes||9,165|
The eight farm classes
South Island high country
Extensive run country located at high altitude. These farms run a diverse mix of operations which include breeding sheep, often fine wooled, breeding cows and deer. Stocking rate is typically up to three stock units per hectare. Located mainly in Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago.
South Island hill country
Traditionally store stock producers with a proportion sold prime in good seasons. Carrying between two and seven stock units per hectare, they usually have a significant proportion of beef cattle.
North Island hard hill country
Steep hill country or low fertility soils with most farms carrying 6 to 10 stock units per hectare. While some stock are finished a significant proportion are sold in store condition.
North Island hill country
Easier hill country or higher fertility soils than Class 3. Mostly carrying between 7 and 13 stock units per hectare. A high proportion of sale stock sold is in forward store or prime condition.
North Island finishing farms
Easy contour farmland with the potential for high production. Mostly carrying between 8 and 15 stock units per hectare. A high proportion of stock is sent to slaughter and replacements are often bought in.
South Island finishing-breeding farms
Farms which breed or trade finishing stock, and may do some cash cropping. A proportion of stock may be sold store, especially from dryland farms. Carrying capacity ranges from 6 to 11 stock units per hectare on dryland farms and over 12 stock units per hectare on wetter or irrigated farms. Mainly in Canterbury and Otago, this is the dominant farm class in the South Island.
South Island finishing farms
High producing grassland farms carrying about 9 to 14 stock units per hectare, with some cash crop. Located in Southland, South and West Otago.
South Island mixed cropping and finishing farms
Located mainly on the Canterbury Plains. A high proportion of their revenue is derived from grain and small seed production, as well as stock finishing or grazing.