For the first time in nearly two years, Australian wool production forecasts have not been revised downwards. The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee, which released its latest forecast on Thursday, says that the long decline in wool production appears to be steadying, and there are signs in many states that sheep numbers are beginning to stabilize. Although, as reported in August, wool production is still at its lowest levels in 93 years and, according to Meat and Livestock Australia, the national sheep flock has fallen to 72 million head.
The committee has reconfirmed that Australian shorn wool production in 2009-2010 is expected to be 330 million kilograms (727 million pounds) greasy- the same as it forecasted in July. However, this figure is still lower than the final estimate for 2008-2009, which was 362 million kilograms (789 million pounds) greasy.
Russell Pattinson, chairman of the Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee, said, "Key statistics, including season-to-date wool tests and wool receivals, continue to point to a fall in production of around 30 million kilograms (66 million pounds) greasy for the year. While seasonal conditions have been patchy around Australia, some areas have experienced the best conditions in a decade but others are still very dry. The main issue is the number of sheep in Australia."
The committee found that producers are starting to look again at sheep as a key part of their farming businesses as a result of a range of factors including the relative returns from sheep compared with other enterprises.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said its preliminary estimate of the number of sheep in Australia was 71.6 million, which is 7 percent lower than a year ago. The figures showed that sheep slaughtering and live sheep exports had fallen, which the committee said suggested that the turn-off of adult sheep had slowed considerably. The committee also now expects that the production of superfine wool will not drop as much as previously expected.
"This is mainly due to poor seasonal conditions in the past six months in the two largest wool producing states of New South Wales and Western Australia," added Pattinson.
Reprinted in part from The Wool Record Weekly