DRYING conditions and a poor seasonal outlook across southern Australia has resulted in a greater percentage of lambs and sheep being turned off during May, Meat and Livestock Australia said.
Furthermore, the deteriorating pasture conditions in many supply regions have seen more supplementary feeding of stock. This, along with genetic advances, has contributed to heavier carcase weights, boosting production in May, MLA said.
MLA said Australia in May recorded its second largest month of lamb production ever — behind November 2016 — at 47,809 tonnes of carcase, up 4 percent year-on-year, according to ABS figures.
The number of lambs processed during the month was 2.04 million head, 1pc higher than year-ago levels. Production was assisted by a 3pc year-on-year increase in average lamb carcase weights, to 23.42kg/head.
Mutton production lifted
MLA said mutton production in May showed a substantial lift from 2016. Volumes rose 9pc from year-ago levels, to 13,109 tonnes. Much like lamb, the increase in mutton production was largely underpinned by heavier carcase weights which averaged 24.75kg/head in May – up 6pc, or 1.45kg, from May 2016, MLA said. The number of sheep processed for the month was up just 2pc year-on-year, to 529,636 head.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s seasonal outlook for the July to September period has forecast that the majority of NSW has a 30-40pc chance of exceeding median rainfall, while average rainfall in Victoria and south west WA is even less likely.
MLA said although current indications are that producers are intending to retain ewes, the poor forecast may see turn-off increase short-term. This has already been observed through increased saleyard throughput and indicative eastern states June slaughter consignments, both registering above year-ago levels.