Australia's sheepmeat industry
Australia is one of the world's leading producers of lamb and mutton, the largest exporter of mutton and live sheep, and second largest exporter of lamb. The Australian public are among the biggest consumers of lamb in the world. The off-farm meat value of the Australian sheepmeat industry is $3.8 billion.
- The Australian national sheep flock is 73.1 million head (*).
- 43,828 properties with sheep and lambs (*).
- 41.8 million breeding ewes one-year and older (*).
- Major prime lamb production areas include the NSW Riverina and wheat-sheep zone, Murray region and high rainfall areas in south-west Victoria and eastern SA.
- Major sheep producing areas include south-west WA, south-west Victoria and southern NSW.
- The sheepmeat industry accounts for 32% of all farms with agricultural activity (*).
- 419,329 tonnes of lamb and 119,713 tonnes of mutton were produced in 2011-12 (**).
- The gross value of Australian sheep, lamb and live sheep production is around $2.7 billion (ABARE 2011-12).
- Lambs and sheep contributed 6% of the total farm value of $48.7 billion in 2011-12.
- Australia produces approximately 7% of the world's lamb and mutton supply.
- Domestic expenditure is estimated at $2.3 billion for lamb and $18 million for mutton (2011-12).
- Australians ate 9.0kg of lamb and 0.5kg of mutton per person in 2010-11.
- Around 82% of Australian fresh meat buyers purchased lamb in 2011-12 (AC Nielsen Homescan).
- In 2011-12, Australia exported 49% of all lamb and 97.5% of all mutton produced (**)(***).
- The value of total lamb exports in 2011-12 was $1.094 million and mutton exports $401 million (**).
- Australian live sheep exports were valued at $345 million in 2011-12 (**).
- The lamb and sheep industry (including live sheep) contributed around 3% to the value of total Australian farm exports in 2011-12.
- The Middle East is the biggest Australian market for lamb exports (25%) and mutton exports (48%) (***).
Read the sheepmeat industry fast facts
Prime lamb situation analysis
The prime lamb industry has been a strong performer among broadacre agricultural enterprises in recent years.
Read the full prime lamb situation analysis report
Sheep numbers by natural resource management region
View the sheep distribution map
All figures based on MLA/ABS/ABARE 2011-12 unless otherwise stated.
* - ABS Agricultural commodities - figures for 30 June 2011
** - latest available ABS data - figures for fiscal year 2011-12
*** - latest available DAFF data - figures for fiscal year 2011-12
Per capita consumption figures from ABARES Agricultural Commodities March 2012