Lamb production heats up in January

15 March 2016


Despite ‘above-average’ rainfall across the majority of NSW in January, parts of Victoria, Tasmania and SA had a drier than average month, and much of southern Australia experienced above-average mean temperatures (Bureau of Meteorology).  National lamb slaughter in January lifted 5% year-on-year, to 1.85 million head (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

As a result, national lamb production totalled 41,697 tonnes cwt for the month – 5% higher than the same period last year.

On a state-by-state basis for January, compared to last year:

  • Victorian lamb production increased 6%, to 17,929 tonnes cwt
  • NSW produced 9,429 tonnes cwt, down 2%
  • SA produced 7,825 tonnes cwt, up 6%
  • WA produced 4,613 tonnes cwt, up 20%
  • Tasmania produced 1,214 tonnes cwt, up 11%
  • Queensland produced 688 tonnes cwt, down 3%

Although the average lamb carcase weight was steady year-on-year in January (22.6kg/head), shifting producer objectives and genetic advances have seen lamb carcase weights increase incrementally over the past decade. This trend is expected to continue in 2016, with the average carcase weight for the year forecast to increase 1% year-on-year, to 22.4kg/head.

Looking forward, major southern producing regions are forecast to experience higher than average rainfall over the autumn period. Australian lamb production is projected to decline 2% in 2016, compared to last year, to 482,000 tonnes cwt.

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