MEAT and Livestock Australia has released the latest figures on lamb slaughter, revealing that from January to June the national lamb slaughter figure surpassed 12 million head for the first time on record.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed that year-to-June lamb slaughter was up 9 per cent year-on-year, at 12.02 million head, and year-to-June sheep slaughter was up 26pc year-on-year, at 4.15 million head.
Lamb carcase weights remained stable, at just over 23kg/head.
MLA said despite a typical seasonal decline in June, lamb slaughter remained “significantly elevated when compared to historical averages”.
“Monthly lamb slaughter fell 21pc from the high set in May, however, remained 10pc above the five-year average for June,” MLA said.
“Nationally, June lamb slaughter reached 1.88 million head, which brought the year-to-June total above 12 million head for the first time on record (according to ABS data, which dates back to January 1970).
“The combined factors of high slaughter and extended drought in major supply regions across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have once again brought into question the supply of finished lambs later in the year.”
MLA said despite the intention of many producers to expand the flock in 2018, poor seasonal conditions had seen monthly sheep slaughter at raised levels, particularly since April.
“Mutton slaughter, which typically reaches an annual low-point in June, totalled 563,000 head, up 35pc on 2017 and up 19pc on the five-year average,” MLA said.
“For the year-to-June, sheep slaughter reached 4.15 million head, which was up 26pc on 2017.”
As was the case in May, historically high prices for finished lambs led to a continuation of supplementary feeding programs in spite of the high feed costs and low pasture availability.
MLA said given the higher slaughter and stable carcase weights, year-to-June lamb production totalled 277,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt), up 9pc year-on-year.
“After a marked fall in May, sheep carcase weights rose back above 23kg/head in June, to 23.4kg/head,” MLA said.
“For the year-to-June, the national average sheep carcase weight was 23.05kg/head, representing a decline of 6pc on 2017.
“Mutton production totalled 96,000t cwt for the same period, up 19pc year-on-year.”