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Over 90% of producers to increase or maintain flock

17 December 2020

Key points:

  • Merinos account for 75% of Australia’s breeding ewe flock
  • More than a third of producers considering increasing their ewe flock are planning to purchase more ewes than normal
  • More than 10 million head of lambs are expected to be sold between November and 28 February 2021.

MLA has published the October results of the MLA and AWI Wool and Sheepmeat Survey. The survey, which is run three times a year, had 1,678 participants across 2,495 different properties.

The survey results provide valuable insights into the sheep and wool industry regarding ewe and lamb numbers, producer intentions, lamb sales and marking rates.

The October results estimate there are 40.7 million breeding ewes in Australia, with 30.4 million (75%) of these being Merinos. They also estimate that as of October 2020, there were 25.9 million lambs on hand, with purebred Merino lambs accounting for 56% of these at 14.5 million.

Producer intentions

The survey results found that 42% of sheep producers are looking to increase the size of their ewe flock in the next twelve months. 34% of producers intending to increase ewe numbers are planning to purchase more ewes than normal.

For the October period, the key survey insights were:

  • there are 40,718,587 breeding ewes on hand
  • there are 30,449,794 merino breeding ewes on hand
  • 42% of producers intend to increase their ewe flock in the next 12 months
  • 44% of producers looking to increase their ewe flock plan on retaining more older ewes
  • there are 25,859,078 lambs on hand, with non-Merino lambs accounting for 44% or 11,362,457 lambs
  • there are 10,187,872 lambs sales predicted between 1 November and 28 February 2021, the specific breakdown is outlined below:
    • 3.015 million pure meat sales (30% of lamb sales)
    • 2.552 million first cross sales (25% of lamb sales)
    • 2.457 million Merino sales (24% of lamb sales)
  • national Merino lamb marking rates were 92%
  • national non-Merino marking rates were 109%.

For the complete list of survey results, read the Survey Report here.

Wool production:

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) met on Wednesday to update its wool production projections for the 2020/21 financial year. The AWPFC forecast estimates that Australia’s wool production for the 2020–21 financial year will total 287 million greasy kilograms, up 1.1% on the 2019–20 financial year.

The basis for increasing Australia’s predicted wool production is the improved seasonal conditions in many wool growing regions.

The AWPFC also predict that only 64.8 million sheep will be shorn in 2020–21, a 5.5% decline on 2019–20 numbers. However, it is predicted that wool shorn per animal will increase this financial year to 4.43kg/head, up 7.3% of 2019–20 levels.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020