Sheep turnoff finishes 2015 lower

16 February 2016

Australian sheep slaughter and live exports both declined in 2015, to 8.49 million head and 1.96 million head, respectively, reflecting tighter supplies following two years of relatively high turnoff (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

  • Victoria processed the greatest amount of sheep, at 3.50 million head, down 9% year-on-year
  • NSW processed 1.77 million head, down 26%
  • WA slaughtered 1.31 million head, down 13%
  • SA killed 1.24 million head, down 21%
  • Queensland processed 438,000 head, down 20%
  • Tasmania slaughtered 233,000 head, down 7%

Despite a modest increase in average carcase weights, mutton production in 2015 declined 14% year-on-year, to almost 202,000 tonnes cwt.

WA continued to drive live exports but shipments were back 13% year-on-year, at 1.69 million head or 86% of the national total. SA accounted for most other live export shipments, with 208,000 head, a decline of 24% on the previous year.

Sheep slaughter typically tracks lower until June or July, putting upward pressure on prices. With the BOM three month weather outlook forecasting a wetter than average February through April across much of southern Australia, an early autumn break may see a reduction in supply even more pronounced than usual. Mutton prices last year in the eastern states peaked towards the end of June, with some indicators managing to breach 400¢/kg cwt, as a result of national slaughter falling to 458,000 head for the month – that was 22% below the same month the previous year and well below the 1 million head plus processed in the peak months of February, October and November 2014.

For more detailed and historical slaughter, production and live export data, please navigate through MLA’s public database –

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