Survey gives tick to sheep

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Aussie sheep producers plan to maintain or increase their flock size this year.
Camera IconAussie sheep producers plan to maintain or increase their flock size this year.

Nearly all Aussie sheep producers plan to maintain or increase their flock size this year, as sheep enterprises continue to stack up well against other commodities.

The latest national Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation sheep survey revealed 90 per cent of producers planned to lift or maintain their flocks in the next 12 months.

The report also revealed Merinos made up 75 per cent of the total Australian breeding flock, with about 40 million ewes on hand when the survey took place in October.

WA had the biggest breeding ewe population in Australia, with about 7.5 million breeding ewes and 4 million lambs on hand. This was followed by south-eastern New South Wales at 4.3 million and central west NSW at 4.2 million.

Comparatively, Australia had 40 million ewes and 14.5 million lambs on hand.

While ewe prices have come back from spring peaks, the survey results showed positive indications that a flock rebuild was under way.

Just seven per cent of respondents planned to reduce sheep numbers in the next 12 months.

A total 54 per cent planned to retain more replacement ewes than usual, with 44 per cent retaining more older ewes and 34 per cent buying more ewes.

More than 10 million lambs are expected to be sold between November and February, with more than one million pure Merino lambs set to be sold by April.

WA’s breeding ewe population included 4.7 million Merino ewes for pure Merino production, and 1.7 million for crossbred production.

The survey revealed most of WA’s lambs — 3.7 million — were pure Merino and 734,050 were first cross lambs.

It also revealed 4.79 million lambs had been marked between July and October, with 2 million lambs set to be sold in the next four months.

The survey involved 1678 participants across 2495 properties.

For the past 18 years the survey has provided MLA and AWI with information about the flock population, demographics, sheep meat and wool supply.

It also asks producers about their flock intentions during key production periods.

The next survey results will be released after June.

The Meat and Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation Wool and Sheepmeat survey report included 4807 WA producers, representing 15 per cent of Australia’s total producer population of 37,121.

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