Australian sheepmeat production in growth
14 November 2017
- Higher slaughter numbers and production volumes during the month of September now has 2017 year-to-date at similar levels to that of 2016 for both lamb and mutton
- drier conditions and greater supply underpinned the increase in September, offsetting the lower slaughter rates earlier in the year
- average carcase weights were similar year-on-year for the month of September due to the exceptional seasonal conditions in September 2016, however, year-to-date average carcase weights increased by 2-4% from year-ago levels
September saw a total of 1.9 million lambs slaughtered nationally, taking the 2017 year-to-date total to 16.5 million head, 1% lower than 2016 levels. Meanwhile, year-to-September sheep slaughter was equal to that of 2016, on 5.2 million head, bolstered by an uplift of 19% in September.
During the second half of 2016, wet conditions and a tighter supply situation lead to a contraction in slaughter numbers – also a factor that affected the beginning of 2017. However, the return of dry seasonal conditions across many key supply regions, combined with an increase in flock numbers, resulted in 2017 monthly slaughter figures surpassing that of 2016 from May onwards.
In terms of production, the higher September slaughter levels translated to greater volumes, with lamb production lifting 4% (41,244 tonnes cwt) and mutton increasing 18% (18,432 tonnes cwt) year-on-year, despite no increase to carcase weights for either lamb or mutton.
On a year-to-date basis, lamb production reached similar levels to 2016 on 378,668 tonnes cwt, with the limited production during the beginning of the year offsetting a 3% increase in average carcase weights to 21.96kg. Mutton production lifted 4%, totalling 128,276 tonnes cwt, aided by an increase in carcase weights, which also lifted 4% to average 25.23kg.
Going forward, the higher likelihood of average seasonal conditions prevailing may favour the continued recovery of the national flock, resulting in a higher turn off of lambs and cull ewes. Meanwhile, prices remain at historic seasonal highs and demand – both domestically for livestock and internationally for sheepmeat – continue to lend support.
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