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Australian Sheep Numbers Fall Again

01 September 2014

AUSTRALIA – Sheep numbers are estimated to be lower for the second consecutive fiscal year, despite weather improving across many key lamb regions.

This is according to Department of Agriculture researchers who put national sheep numbers at 70 million.

More favourable conditions earlier this year led to a slight increase in sheep and marked lamb numbers, up six and eight per cent respectively.

However, this was not enough to counter the effect of drought conditions leading to destocking in 2013, forcing sheep sales five per cent higher.

The ABARES report Australian lamb: financial performance of slaughter lamb producing farms, 2011-12 to 2013-14 calculated a 49 per cent lift in sheep and lamb sales the year before.

Forced culling has negated a two year rebuilding phase when numbers hit 75 million, explained a Meat and Livestock Australia analyst.

“During 2009-10 and 2010-11, the Australian sheep flock went through a rebuilding phase, as many lamb producers had favourable weather conditions,” the spokesperson said.

“However, during 2012 and 2013 many lamb producing regions had below average rainfall, resulting in slaughter lamb and adult sheep sales for 2012-13 increasing 4 per cent and 13 per cent year-on-year respectively.

“As much of the lamb producing regions had below average rainfall in the first half of 2013-14, many producers continued destocking and ABARES estimate the national flock declined for a second consecutive year, to 70 million head.”

TheSheepSite News Desk