7.6 million lambs to hit market this spring

Key points:

Key points:

  • Merino ewes continue to account for more than 70% of the national breeding flock.
  • The great southern region of WA and central west NSW have the largest breeding flocks, accounting for 5.6m and 5m head respectively.
  • In the next four months, there is expected to be 7.6 million lambs marketed.

The results for the June wave of the MLA and Australian Wool Institute (AWI)’s Wool and Sheepmeat Survey Report were released on Tuesday. This survey gives an indication of intentions for sheepmeat and wool producers across Australia into the spring season.

Breeding flock

The breeding flock has been reported at 42.5 million head, 2% higher than the June survey last year.

Merino ewes are making up a majority of the breed proportion at 72%, although this proportion has eased 1.8% since the last survey.

Lambs on hand

The survey also showed that there were 22 million lambs on hand, with 55% of these being pure bred Merino lambs and 45% being non-Merino.

The largest breeding ewe population was recorded in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, which had a population of 5.6 million head. This was closely followed by central-west NSW at 5 million head and south-east NSW at 4.8 million head. Meanwhile, at the time of the survey, the number of lambs on hand was greatest in central-west NSW at 3.1 million. This was followed by southern WA, where lambs on hand were found to be around 2.7 million head.

Lambs to come to market

7.3 million lambs were marked between 1 March and 30 June 2022, with 28% of these being first cross lambs and 18% being pure meat lambs. The number of ewes joined to produce those lambs totaled 7.6 million head and the majority of these came from NSW and WA. The number of ewes joined has increased significantly year-on-year across all states.

Meanwhile, expected sales for lambs in the next four months totaled 7.6 million head – an easing of 5%, or 400,000 head, since the last survey. This is as producers are looking to hold on to their lambs as a way of increasing their flock moving forwards. When compared year-on-year, this number has strengthened by 400,000 head with the glut of lambs coming to market.

Future flock plans

12% of producers across the nation intend to decrease their flocks in the next 12 months. Although this is more than when the last survey was taken, 27% of producers still intend to increase their flock while the rest intend to maintain their flock.

Much of the incentive for decreasing flock size in the next 12 months is coming from WA and the Wimmera Mallee Murray area where conditions have been particularly wet and wintery. This shows that there is plenty of confidence into the market to come, especially with forecast favourable conditions moving into the warmer months.

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