Industry overview

Australia is among the world's largest and most successful and efficient producers of commercial livestock and a leader in the export of red meat and livestock. The total value of Australia's off-farm beef and sheepmeat industry is A$17 billion (source: MLA estimate).

The national sheep flock, now at around 75.5 million head, is down on the historical highs of 1960 when it reached 170 million. This reflects a more competitive international fibre market, land use changes in the agricultural sector and, more recently, the ravages of drought.

Similarly, the beef cattle herd size is down to 29.3 million head from the 1970s high of 30 million (source: ABS - Agricultural Commodities 2012-13). Dairy cattle contribute an additional 2.8 million head to the cattle herd.

Australia is a world leader in the export of commercial livestock. The live trade is a significant contributor to the Australian rural economy and has provided an important market for Australian cattle, sheep and goat producers for more than 30 years.

Australians consume an average of 40.9kg of red meat each year. This is made up of 30.9kg of beef, 9.5kg of lamb and 0.5kg of mutton.

All figures based on MLA/DAFF/ABS/ABARE 2010-11 unless otherwise stated. Per capita consumption figures are from MLA cattle industry projections 2011.

Join myMLA today

One username and password for key integrity and information Systems (LPA/NVD, NLIS, MSA & LDL).

A personalised online dashboard that provides news, weather, events and R&D tools relevant to you.

Customised market information and analysis.

Learn more about myMLA

myMLA Sign Up

Already registered for myMLA?

Sign in here