Lower sheep slaughter continues across eastern states

13 April 2016

With the exception of September, Australian monthly sheep slaughter has been consistently lower year-on-year since the beginning of 2015 (ABS). This trend continued in February 2016, with the national sheep kill down 10% on year-ago levels, at 767,596 head. It should be noted, however, that compared with the five-year (2011–2015) average for February, slaughter was still 2% higher this year.

All states except for WA recorded a decline in processing in February, compared to last year:

  • NSW decreased 16%, to 141,192 head
  • Victoria decreased 13%, o 326,188 head
  • Queensland decreased 2%, to 40,376 head
  • SA decreased 10%, to 101,511 head
  • Tasmania decreased 11%, to 27,902 head
  • WA increased 6%, to 130,427 head

Mutton production for the month fell 9% on the corresponding period last year, at 17,859 tonnes cwt – down to a slightly lesser extent than slaughter due to a 1% rise in the national average sheep carcase weight (23.27kg/head).

MLA’s forecasts for sheep slaughter and production for 2016 have been revised higher than the initial December forecast, in the Australian Sheep Industry Projections 2016 April Update. The number of sheep expected to be processed in 2016 was adjusted upwards to 7.8 million head – up from the previous forecast of 7.5 million head, but still 8% lower than 2015 levels. As a result, mutton production in 2016 is projected to reach 185,000 tonnes cwt – also back 8% year-on-year.

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