Heavier sheep helped NSW export more mutton last year, despite a decline in slaughtering throughput.
Meat and Livestock Australia said a four percent rise in carcase weights through NSW offset a decline in slaughter and kept production at a steady level year-on-year.
NSW slaughtered four percent less sheep last year at 2.389 million sheep, but managed to hold its exported carcase shipments at a firm 57,444 tonnes.
Sheepmeat yields increased
National mutton production registered a larger increase than slaughter in 2014 due to gains in sheepmeat yields, MLA said.
“Average national sheep carcase weights were 3pc higher than 2013, at 23.17kg/head.”
Australian mutton production in 2014 reached almost 233,992 tonnes cwt, an 8pc rise on production levels of the previous year and 39pc above the five-year average.
“The lift in overall production was assisted largely by a 19pc year-on-year increase in Victoria, to 84,856 tonnes,” MLA said.
WA mutton production unchanged
WA production remained unchanged on year-ago levels, at 34,428 tonnes. Queensland produced 11,661 tonnes of mutton in 2014 (up 3pc year-on-year), while SA produced 40,837 tonnes cwt (up 13pc year-on-year). The only state to record a decline in mutton production was Tasmania, easing 16pc year-on-year, to 4767 tonnes cwt.
MLA said the increase in mutton production in 2014 was driven by higher sheep turnoff, with drought conditions prevailing over much of the country.
Australian sheep slaughter stood at 10.1 million head in 2014, up 5pc on the previous year. Victoria processed 15pc more sheep, totalling 3.8 million head, while SA slaughter lifted 10pc year-on-year, to 1.6 million head. Queensland processing facilities slaughtered 548,267 sheep. WA’s slaughter level reduced 2pc to 1.5 million head and Tasmania 14pc more sheep at 248,802 head.