Meat and Livestock Australia Forecasts 2.7 million fewer Sheep and Lambs will be Processed, Supporting Record Prices in 2017 on Lower Flock Numbers
April 14, 2017

Australian lamb slaughter is expected to contract even more than initially forecast for 2017, with a strong incentive from producers to retain ewe lambs for future breeding and Merino wether lambs for wool production. These factors exacerbate the already lower supplies on the back of lower lamb markings during the second half of 2016. The result is an expected 2017 lamb slaughter of 21.5 million head, down a further 500,000 head from what was originally forecast for 2017, and down 1.5 million head (6%) from the 2016 record.

In terms of availability throughout the year, on-the-ground reports suggest there will remain a reasonably steady lamb supply through until the end of April, before numbers are expected to become very tight until August/September, when the new season flush comes through. It should be noted that while a 6% decline in lamb slaughter is expected, the 2017 estimate is still very much in line with the longer term growth trend.

Looking at production, the expectation of relatively high lamb carcase weights will slightly offset the impact of lower slaughter. For 2017, expectations are for a 6% year-on-year fall in lamb production, to 481,600 tonnes cwt, before rebounding back above the 500,000 tonne mark in 2019. Source: Meat and Livestock Australia April Australian Sheep Update