Higher start to 2017 for national lamb slaughter

14 March 2017

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that national lamb slaughter for the first month in 2017 reached 1.9 million head – up 2% year-on-year, and was 8% higher than the five-year average.

The overall increase was underpinned by a 6% year-on-year lift in processing in Victoria (867,911 head) in January, an 8% increase in NSW (412,060 head) and a 13% jump in lamb slaughter in WA (248,906 head). SA (300,122 head), on the other hand, recorded a 10% decline in lamb processing in January, while slaughter levels in Tasmania (60,008 head) and Queensland (4,971 head) were down 3% and 84%, respectively.

The national average lamb carcase weight in January rose 1% on the same time last year, to 22.83kg/head – which saw total lamb production increase 4%, to 43,233 tonnes cwt.

Looking back at the seasonal conditions over the same period, parts of eastern NSW and Victoria, and the southern tip of WA recorded below average rainfall in January, while most of central Australia and the remainder of WA experienced a wetter than average month. Conditions were patchy in southeast Queensland and western NSW – although large parts received average falls during the month.

Furthermore, national over-the-hook and saleyard lamb indicators averaged dearer in January, compared to last year. The national heavy trade lamb (20-22kg) over-the-hook indicator averaged 554¢/kg cwt for the month, up 7% year-on-year, and the trade lamb saleyard indicator was 11% higher, averaging 582¢/kg cwt.

The number of sheep processed across the country in January was 11% lower than last year, at 645,132 head. All states but one recorded a year-on-year decline in slaughter during the month – with NSW the exception:

  • NSW increased 29%, to 163,198 head
  • Victoria declined 9%, to 282,745 head
  • WA declined 27%, to 91,962 head
  • SA declined 4%, to 91,628 head
  • Tasmania declined 46%, to 14,937 head
  • Queensland declined 98%, to 662 head

A 4% lift in the average sheep carcase weight (24.5kg) in January saw national mutton production offset slightly, to 15,796 tonnes swt – down 7% from year-ago levels.

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