It has been a year of extremes so far for the Australian sheep market, with lamb prices soaring into uncharted territory in recent months, although certainly not without its challenges. Widespread rainfall deficiencies in south-east Australia, particularly drought-stricken NSW, have led to elevated sheep slaughter levels for the most part of the year and placed downward pressure on carcase weights. This has led to a significant upward revision of 2018 sheep slaughter forecast to 9.3 million head.
The dry conditions drove increased lamb slaughter for the first half of the year, however this has fallen in recent months due to the delay in new season lambs entering the market. Annual lamb slaughter is now projected to be 22.9 million head for 2018, up 2% on 2017.
Meanwhile, strong global demand for Australian sheepmeat, combined with the softer Australian dollar and constrained domestic supplies out of New Zealand, have supported record export volumes and values.
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