Lamb kill slows over winter

13 October 2016

Following a higher than anticipated number of lambs coming forward in summer and autumn, driven by ‘below-average’ rainfall during those months across many key producing regions, Australian lamb slaughter contracted in winter, compared to last year.

According to the recently released data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, national lamb slaughter in August was down 4% from the same time last year, at 1.8 million head. The total number of lambs slaughtered over winter (Jun-Aug) was 5.1 million head – 303,700 (or 6%) fewer lambs processed than winter last year.

For the year-to-August, however, kill numbers are tracking on par with 2015 levels, at 14.9 million head.

With average lamb carcase weights remaining steady year-on-year in August, at 21.57kg/head, lamb production dropped 4% in line with slaughter, to 38,746 tonnes cwt for the month – bringing the year-to-date total to 335,984 tonnes cwt.

Most states, except for NSW and WA, registered a drop in processing levels during August, compared to the same time last year:

  • Victoria declined 7% (or 56,255 head), to 758,310 head
  • South Australia declined 13% (or 45,725 head), to 293,335 head
  • Tasmania declined 31% (or 20,456 head), to 45,361 head
  • Queensland declined 75% (or 22,987 head), to 7,493 head
  • NSW increased 2% (or 9,965 head), to 431,257 head
  • WA increased 26% (or 53,843 head), to 260,621 head

Furthermore, since the beginning of spring this year, MLA reported eastern states lamb slaughter has averaged just under 334,000 lambs per week (up until week ending 7 October) – down 8% from the corresponding period last year.

The results from the October MLA and AWI wool and sheepmeat survey will shed more light on the availability of lambs for the remainder of the year and into 2017. The survey is open until 31 October and the results will be available on the MLA website next month. If you are a sheepmeat or wool producer and would like to participate in this quick online survey, please click here.

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