Dry autumn drives sheepmeat supply higher
13 June 2018
Australian lamb and mutton supply continued to rise above year-ago levels in April, with turn-off driven by below-average rainfall across key sheep producing regions of the country during the month.
Compared to 2017, national lamb slaughter (1.9 million head) in April this year was 24% higher and mutton slaughter (635,418 head) was 61% higher (ABS). However, April 2017 was particularly low, largely due to where the Easter public holidays fell. When using the five-year average for April as a comparison, lamb slaughter this year was up 9% and sheep slaughter was very similar.
For the year-to-date (January to April), the number of lambs processed across the country reached 7.7 million head – 8% higher than the same period last year. This was driven by Victoria (up 20%, to 4 million head), NSW (up 12%, to 1.7 million head), and WA (up 6%, to 941,000 head). The national average lamb carcase weight was on par with year-ago levels, at just over 23kg, which meant that lamb production increased to the same extent as slaughter, to 178,501 tonnes carcase weight (cwt).
Sheep slaughter totalled 2.8 million head for the first four months of the year, up 18% year-on-year, primarily underpinned by increased processing in NSW (up 33%), Victoria (up 13%) and WA (up 44%). Sheep carcase weights eased 3% on average, to 23.5kg, which saw the volume of mutton produced lift 15% year-on-year, to 64,947 tonnes cwt.
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