Smaller Flock, Higher Prices for AU Lamb
July 12, 2013

The Australian sheep flock is estimated to have declined by 1 percent in 2012-2013, to 74 million head, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Economics and Science (ABARES), Agricultural commodities – June quarter 2013. The smaller flock is largely due to a significant increase in sheep and lamb turn-off throughout the past year – reflective of the tough seasonal conditions. Furthermore, the sheep flock is projected to fall by a further 0.5 percent in 2013-2014, to around 73.6 million head. 
Lamb slaughter is forecast to fall by 8 percent, to around 19.5 million head, and production down 7 percent, to 431,000 tons per hundred weight (cwt) in 2013-2014. This projected fall is generated on the back of a lower opening number of lambs due to, and in the wake of, the very high slaughter in 2012-2013 (21.2 million head). 
ABARES also forecasts adult sheep slaughter to fall in 2013-2014 as tighter opening supplies, coupled with improved rebuilding conditions, are estimated to reduce sheep slaughter to around 6.3 million head – a 20-percent decrease from an estimated 7.9 million head in 2012-2013. 
Reflecting the forecast fall in sheepmeat supply in 2013-2014, ABARES estimates Australian lamb exports to decline by around 12 percent and mutton by 24 percent. As a result, the total value of sheepmeat export is also estimated to fall by around 11 percent to $1.4 billion in 2013-2014. 
Reprinted from Meat and Livestock Weekly