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Lamb and mutton productions records broken across the board

18 August 2023

Key points:

  • Australia produced the most lamb on record in calendar year 2022.
  • The past quarter recorded the most lamb meat ever produced in a quarter at 149,385 tonnes.
  • Sheep slaughter for the quarter was 2,550,700 - the highest since December 2019.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its quarterly statistics on livestock slaughtered and meat production, highlighting record lamb production and growth in mutton production across the board so far this year.

According to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Australia produced the most lamb on record in the calendar year 2022. For the first six months of 2023, lamb producers are tracking 7.7% above year-on-year levels or 20,000 tonnes.

“This indicates another strong, potentially record-breaking year for Australian lamb producers,” according to Stephen Bignell, Manager, Market Information, at MLA.

“Following a significant flock rebuild over the last few years, we have seen significant lamb slaughter across the nation in the first half of this year.

“Over 11.5 million lambs were processed to June 2023 which is the second highest start to a year since 2018 when over 12 million lambs were slaughtered.

“This is an extra 1.24 million lambs slaughtered when compared to 2022, an uplift of 12% year-on-year.”

This quarter has also seen lamb production records broken, with 149,385 tonnes being produced in Australia, which is 4% more than the previous record set in June 2018.

Mutton production is also seeing higher levels than previously recorded. Sheep slaughter for the quarter was 2,550,700 head – the highest in nearly four years. According to Mr Bignell, nearly five million sheep have been processed so far this year.

“This is an extra 2,024,800 compared to the same point in 2022, equating to an additional mutton throughput of 68% year-on-year,” he said.

“Victoria is contributing the most to the big jump in mutton slaughter, with Victorian processors working through 1 million sheep so far this year.

Lamb and sheep proceeds were above Q1 2023 levels and the same as March 2021. The gross value of sheep and lambs slaughtered increased 1.9% to $1.2 billion.

In financial year 2023, lamb and sheep farmers made $4.8b for the sale of animals to processors.