Research and Development

Higher Merino lamb markings as Australian sheep flock recovers

Sheep Central, December 11, 2020

AUSTRALIA’S sheep flock is in recovery mode and especially among Merino flocks, according to preliminary results from the industry’s October wool and sheep meat survey.

Meat & Livestock Australia said the results indicate a national flock recovery is underway and set to gain momentum, with lamb marking rates up due to improved seasonal conditions.

The October Wool and Sheep meat survey, conducted by both MLA and the Australian Wool Innovation has concluded and the full results will be available next week.

MLA said in October last year, 26 percent of producers intended to increase their ewe flock, while this year 42pc have indicated their intention to do so and 52pc intend on maintaining numbers.

While the number of lambs on-hand declined 4pc year-on-year to 25.9 million head, marking rates lifted 12pc for Merinos to average 92pc, and remained steady on year-ago levels for non-Merinos at 109pc. MLA said drought conditions last year saw heightened numbers of productive ewes and ewe lambs turned off, which has had flow-on effects for lamb numbers this year.

MLA said that looking ahead, with higher marking rates and more producers intent on increasing or maintaining flock sizes, the national flock recovery is set to gain momentum next year.

The increase will likely be achieved by retaining more replacement ewes than normal, with 56pc of respondents electing this as their main source of supply over the first quarter of 2021.

The October 2020 results will be available the week of 14 December. Results for the previous Wool and Sheepmeat surveys can be found here.

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