Mutton production lower for 11th consecutive month

21 January 2016

Australian mutton production eased 10% year-on-year in November 2015, to 22,186 tonnes cwt – the 11 consecutive month of lower year-on-year volumes, following the highs of 2014 (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Despite the decrease on year-ago levels, November production remains 15% above the five-year average for the month.

Underpinning lower production, sheep slaughter in November fell 10% year-on-year, to 901,638 head.

The average carcase weight in November was marginally lower than year-ago levels but remained 3% above the five-year average – at 24.61kg/head. More efficient ewe management programs are just one of the several contributing factors towards increasing carcase weights over the past 15 years.

For the January to November period, mutton production totalled 183,166 tonnes cwt – a 14% decrease on the corresponding period the year prior. Sheep slaughter was down 16% year-on-year for the 11 months, at 7.7 million head.

Following sustained high sheep kills in 2014, and continuing below-average rainfall in major producing regions, sheep slaughter for 2015 is estimated to be 16% lower than the year before, at 8.5 million head. Furthermore, with an expected recovery in the national flock over the next few years, sheep slaughter for 2016 is forecast decline 12%, to 7.5 million head.

Lower mutton production is also expected to continue in 2016 – down 13% to 173,000 tonnes cwt.

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