What Is the Ratio of People to Sheep in New Zealand?

The ratio of sheep to people in New Zealand is about seven sheep for every one person. The country's human population is about 4.5 million, and there are estimated to be more than 30 million sheep in New Zealand. The country has one of the highest ratios of sheep to people in the world. By comparison, Australia — another country with a high sheep population — has a ratio of less than five sheep per person. The ratio in New Zealand has declined from a high of 22:1 in 1982, because of factors such as drought conditions and a decrease in wool prices that has reduced the incentive to raise sheep.

More about New Zealand:

  • The first sheep in New Zealand were brought to the country by British explorer Captain James Cook in 1773.
  • New Zealand’s sheep population first began to grow quickly during the 1860s because of cheap prices for buying sheep from Australia as a result of droughts. In 1862, for example, the city of Canterbury, New Zealand, received more than 13,000 sheep from Australia.
  • The cattle population in New Zealand increased by about 110% from 1980-2010, while the sheep population dropped by 55%.

Discussion Comments


Why is the sheep population so large?

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