Data & Tools

We provide accurate, independent information to help farmers, meat processors, consultants and other organisations with their planning. Below you’ll find data and tools you can use to make farming business decisions – from export statistics to economic reports to interactive tools.

Farm classes

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 2014-15 farm class Estimated farms
South Island High country 215
South Island Hill country 810
North Island Hard hill country 1,065
North Island Hill country 3,640
North Island Intensive finishing 1,275
South Island Finishing breeding 2,505
South Island Intensive finishing 1,290
South Island Mixed finishing 495
  Total all classes 11,295



The eight farm classes

South Island high country

Extensive run country at high altitude carrying fine wool sheep, with wool as the main source of revenue. Located mainly in Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago.

South Island hill country

Mainly mid-micron wool sheep mostly carrying between two and seven stock units per hectare. Three quarters of the stock units wintered are sheep and one quarter beef cattle.

North Island hard hill country

Steep hill country or low fertility soils with most farms carrying six 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 seven and 13 stock units per hectare. A high proportion of sale stock sold is in forward store or prime condition.

North Island intensive finishing farms

Easy contour farmland with the potential for high production. Mostly carrying between eight 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

A more extensive type of finishing farm, also encompassing some irrigation units and frequently with some cash cropping. Carrying capacity ranges from six to 11 stock units per hectare on dryland farms and over 12 stock units per hectare on irrigated units. Mainly in Canterbury and Otago. This is the dominant farm class in the South Island.

South Island intensive finishing farms

High producing grassland farms carrying about 10 to 14 stock units per hectare, with some cash crop. Located mainly 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.