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Intention clear to retain breeding ewes

08 April 2021

Key points:

  • Results of the February 2021 Sheep Survey have been released
  • 8 million lamb sales expected between 1 March and 30 June
  • 94% of producers expect to increase or maintain their breeding ewe numbers over the next 12 months

The February wool and sheepmeat survey, conducted by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), has been finalised and results released today.

The results are used by industry in forecasting the future size of the flock and lamb production. From this particular survey, the results paint a picture of a flock rebuild based on the retention of breeding ewes.  

As at February 2021, there were 41.3 million breeding ewes of which 31.4 million, or 76%, are Merinos. It is these breeding ewes that will drive the rebuild.

As producers look to utilise more ewes to rebuild their flocks, only 30% are looking at buying in more external breeding ewes – most are looking to retain more replacement ewes, or reduce the number of ewes culled.

On a state basis, the results vary significantly, with ewes on hand in WA down 200,000 head since last year due to dry conditions. Also of interest was the drop in over 1 million breeding ewes in the Mallee/Wimmera region, as improved seasonal conditions drove farmers to increase their cropping operations, choosing to trade sheep rather than breed them.

Other interesting results include:

  • Of the 8,005,144 total lamb sales in the next four months, 41% will be Merinos, 25% will be pure meat breeds and 19% will be first cross.
  • 66% of lambs on hand are Merinos.
  • 71% of ewes joined were Merinos.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021