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How competitive are Australian beef and sheepmeat producers?

13 March 2020
Meat & Livestock Australia

The latest agri benchmark report commissioned by MLA, examines sheep and beef production in Australia, as well as some of our largest global competitors.

The global sheep network includes 17 member countries, covering 55% of world sheepmeat production and has been producing the results of comparative analysis over the last eight years. While the cattle network has over 34 member countries, covering 75% of world beef production and has been producing the results of comparative analysis over the last 17 years.

The core competence of the network is in analysing production systems, their economics, drivers and perspectives facing producers around the world. The reports also compare farm profitability (globally and in network countries) and evaluate future opportunities and challenges for the respective industries.

Global and Australian sheep production performance – Key points

  • Australian sheep farms, in comparison to most countries represented in agri benchmark, are large and diversified businesses.
  • Australia’s number of lambs weaned is relatively low in comparison to the 112 average across all farms, primarily the consequence of the more extensive broadacre farming practices and environment.
  • Australian sheep farmers are using their management skills to achieve internationally competitive labour productivity, growth rates, weaning weights and sale weights to achieve medium-term and long-term profitability.
  • Four of the seven Australian farms analysed in the report improved their medium-term profit in 2018 compared to 2017.

Global and Australian beef production performance – Key points

  • The cow-calf component of Australian beef cattle farms are internationally competitive compared to their main export competitors from North and South America.
  • Northern Australian cow-calf systems have relatively low stocking rates, on a par with similar rangelands in Montana and Kansas (US) and Alberta (Canada). However, southern Australia’s higher rainfall systems maintain high stocking rates and land productivity, similar to European and the more intensive South American systems.
  • The Australian grain-finishing farm achieved the highest live weight gain (grams/day) compared to the other grain finishing farms. The Australian farms (pasture finishing system) have daily live weight gains (grams/day) ranging from the highest in NSW to the lowest in the Northern Territory.
  • Seven of the nine Australian beef farms included in the report were able to achieve long-term profitability, showing the comparative strength of the Australian beef farming sector in 2018 relative to other farms.


View the latest Global and Australian sheep, beef and beef feedlot production performance.

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