Australian lamb output to hit record level in 2023

Sheep Central, February 15, 2022

Australia’s sheep flock increasing, meaning more lambs for export. Picture – Craig Hinchliffe.

AUSTRALIA’S lamb production is expected to reach a record 567,000 tonnes next year as the national flock continued to increase, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest Sheep Industry Projections.

The sheep flock is predicted to increase by 3.5 million to 74.4 million head in 2022, its highest level since 2013, with lamb slaughter to hit 21.6 million, MLA believes.

Key drivers in flock growth this year are continued strong seasonal conditions across key sheep-producing states of New South Wales and Victoria, as well as a favourable autumn and winter rainfall for Western Australia.

MLA’s market information manager, Stephen Bignell, said with continued strong domestic production conditions and slaughter volumes expected to increase significantly in 2022, the Australian sheep meat industry had outperformed expectations.

“With an influx of lambs expected to hit the market in early to mid-2022, slaughter volumes are predicted to reach 21.6 million head in 2022 meanwhile sheep slaughter is expected to reach six million head in 2022, marking a 17.6 percent increase on 2021 levels.

“Given the abundance of feed across the key lamb producing regions of eastern Australia during both 2020 and 2021, average national lamb carcase weights are expected to gain a modest 0.2kg to reach 25kg in 2022,” Mr Bignell said.

“Production is set to increase in the next few years to record levels.

“In 2023, it is predicted that production for lamb will be at an all-time high of 567,000 tonnes which will subsequently flow through to higher exports,” he said.

“Overall, Australia’s sheep meat industry is positioned to strengthen, and confidence remains high across most parts of the industry, including the production end where seasonal conditions and overall historical market prices have never been more favourable.”

Mr Bignell said as the high-value Australia-UK- Free Trade Agreement (A-UK FTA) comes into effect later in 2022, the Australian sheep meat industry was in a well-built position to further strengthen and capture global opportunities in both emerging and established markets.

“Australia will benefit from enhanced access to the UK market.

“This will include a tariff-free volume of 25,000 tonnes of sheep meat in year one, increasing to 75,000 tonnes by year 10,” Mr Bignell said.

“Australia is likely to emerge as the only country with the production and transport infrastructure available to meet supply challenges over the next decade as well as ongoing demand from markets that lack the capacity for domestic supply.”

View a full copy of MLA’s February 2022 Sheep Projections here.

MLA’s first Sheep Projections webinar for 2022 will be held next Friday 18 February at 11am AEDT. Click here to register for the webinar, which will provide a considered analysis of the forecast Australian sheep market for 2022.


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