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 $4.2 billion.

Fast facts

National flock

  • The Australian national sheep flock is 75.5 million head (*).
  • 42,012 properties with sheep and lambs (*).
  • 40.3 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 33% of all farms with agricultural activity (*).  


  • 474,267 tonnes of lamb and 227,891 tonnes of mutton were produced in 2013-14 (**).
  • The gross value of Australian sheep, lamb and live sheep production is around $2.2 billion (ABARES 2013-14).
  • Lambs and sheep contributed 5% of the total farm value of $47.9 billion in 2013-14.
  • Australia produces approximately 8% of the world's lamb and mutton supply (FAO 2013).


  • Domestic expenditure is estimated at $1.9 billion for lamb and $55.5 million for mutton (2013-14).
  • Australians ate 9.5kg of lamb and 0.5kg of mutton per person in 2013-14.
  • Around 81.2% of Australian fresh meat buyers purchased lamb in 2014 (AC Nielsen Homescan).


  • In 2013-14, Australia exported 57% of all lamb and 96% of all mutton produced (**)(***).
  • The value of total lamb exports in 2013-14 was $1.5 billion and mutton exports $772 million (**).
  • Australian live sheep exports were valued at $185 million in 2013-14 (**).
  • The lamb and sheep industry (including live sheep) contributes around 6% to the value of total Australian farm export value of $41 billion (FOB) (ABARES Agricultural Commodities 2014)
  • The Middle East is the biggest Australian market for lamb exports (27%), while China is the largest market for mutton exports (40%) (***).

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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/ABARES 2013-14 unless otherwise stated.
* - ABS Agricultural commodities - figures for 30 June 2013
** - latest available ABS data - figures for fiscal year 2013-14
*** - latest available DAFF data - figures for fiscal year 2013-14
Per capita consumption figures based on an MLA estimate 2014


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