May 29, 2009
Final Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates for the Australian cattle herd and sheep flock as of June 30, 2008, have been revised lower, exacerbating the year-on-year declines forecasted by the earlier estimates. Drought throughout the 2007-2008 fiscal year was the main contributor to the lower herd and flock numbers.
According to the ABS, Australia's sheep flock stood at 76.94 million head as of June 30, 2008, down 10 percent, or 8.78 million head from the previous year. This is the lowest Australian sheep flock since 1916, and takes the decline since 1990 (170.2 million head) to 55 percent.
The Australian sheep flock reached a record high of 179.8 million head in 1970, with records starting in 1885 at 61.4 million head.
Along with the drought, the lower national flock throughout 2007-2008 was brought about by enterprise shifts towards cropping.
Reprinted in part from Meat and Livestock Australia