Lamb Processing

Processors handle record lamb slaughter in 2023

Sheep Central, February 21, 2024

AUSTRALIA’S sheep meat processors have managed the nation’s highest slaughter of lambs ever in 2023, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.

MLA said Australia produced the most lamb on record in the calendar year 2023 — 599,461 tonnes — 11.6 percent higher than 2022, the previous record year.

MLA’s market information manager Stephen Bignell said as predicted last year, lamb production hit yet another record thanks to the significant flock rebuild since 2020.

“The biggest sheep flock for 15 years, including the greatest number of ewes and biggest number of lambs, has resulted in these record slaughter and production rates yet again this year,” he said.

“Despite anxieties into the capacity of processing facilities to cope with the backlog of lambs, these figures indicate that they were able to cope with the numbers supplied.

“This resulted in strong exports as well as plenty of lamb being available domestically, which was enjoyed by many Australians over the Summer,” Mr Bignell said.

“Lamb carcase weights were down 3.64% to 24.09kg.

“This is close to the ideal carcase weight for Australian domestically-consumed lamb – which is around 24kg,” he said.

MLA said the fourth quarter of 2023 was the largest quarterly lamb slaughter on record at 6,674,500 lambs, helping to break the yearly record.

It was also a record year for sheep and mutton production, with a 43pc increase in mutton production to 2,446,003 tonnes. It was the largest calendar year of mutton production since 2006, MLA said.

Beef cattle slaughter up 20pc

MLA said the 2023 cattle slaughter tipped 7 million at 7,028,900, up 20pc year-on-year.

Last year, beef production was up 18pc year-on-year to 2,210,954 tonnes, the largest year since 2019.

“This was thanks to a large national herd and processors handling the increase,” Mr Bignell said.

“Cattle slaughter last year reached 7,028,900 head, up 20pc compared to 2022.

“The last quarter also showed a female slaughter ratio (FSR) of 46.87pc, bringing the annual FSR average to 46.58pc,” he said.

“A FSR rate of below 47pc indicates that the Australian cattle herd is in a marginal growth phase following two consecutive destocking periods as shown in the middle of 2022.”

Source – MLA.


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