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Financial snapshot of sheep and cattle farms

24 June 2021

Key points:

  • ABARES released financial dashboards and benchmarks for Australian farms on a regional and species basis last Thursday
  • The average farm capital (the value of land, buildings and machinery) has increased 6% in 2019-20 to $5.95m
  • The average Australian sheep producer is 62 years of age, with 2,444 sheep on hand

The Department of Agriculture has recently released its latest financial dashboards on the performance of Australian farms, including key statistics on profitability, enterprise details and costs of production.

The interactive dashboard also allows producers to find key details relevant to their own farms.

Key takeaways from the dashboards include:

Australian farmers

The average age of an Australian sheep farmer has increased from 52 years in 2000 to 62 years in 2020. Similarly, the age of Australian beef farmers has also grown over the last 20 years, increasing from 58 years old in 2000 to 64 years old last year. 

Area operated

Over the past 20 years the average size of Australian beef farms has increased by 1,000 hectares to 13,317ha. In contrast, the size of sheep farms has shrunk by 40% to 3,992ha.

Average sheep and cattle prices

On a per head basis, in the 2020 financial year Australian sheep farmers received $159 per head for their sheep sales – the highest on record. For cattle producers they received $1,272/head, the fourth highest on record after the 2017, 2018 and 2019 financials years.

Family labour

Australian sheep farms rely heavily on family labour. Family labour accounted for 14% of all costs in 2020.

Financial data

Farm capital grew 6% to $5.95m in 2020–21 for the average Australian livestock farm. At the same time, livestock farms’ liquid assets fell by $29,000 to $146,000, while off-farm income remains steady at $40,000.

To learn more about farm profitability and performance on a species and regional basis, visit ABARES here: Financial performance of livestock farms - Department of Agriculture

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021