WA sheepmeat exports worth a record $586.6 million

Sheep at Muchea Livestock Centre.
Camera IconSheep at Muchea Livestock Centre. Credit: Danella Bevis

WA sheepmeat exports reached record values in 2019, according to the latest sheep industry snapshot from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

The department’s Sheep Notes publication reports a 12 per cent increase in the volume of lamb and mutton exports compared with the previous year.

Department research officer Kate Pritchett said WA sheepmeat exports reached 84.1 million kilograms in 2019, worth a record $596.6 million.

“Growth was led by mutton exports, which increased in value to $259.2 million, up 52 per cent year on year,” Ms Pritchett said.

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“The largest sheepmeat markets were China, Qatar and the USA.”

Ms Pritchett said WA sheep numbers had been relatively stable in recent years but increased demand would put pressure on maintaining the size of the flock.

As of July 2019, the flock consisted of 14.3 million sheep and lambs, including 7.8 million breeding ewes.

“The size of the flock is projected to decrease in 2019/20 to between 12.9 million and 13.4 million head, due to the high number of sheep processed, as well as high numbers of sheep moving interstate,” Ms Pritchett said.

“However, this may have been tempered to some degree by reduced numbers of sheep exported live.”

Department senior development officer Mandy Curnow said with WA in the midst of lambing, good nutrition of ewes would be crucial to maintaining the sheep flock.

“Feed on offer available to ewes is still low in most paddocks so continuing supplementary feeding will be crucial to most producers,” Ms Curnow said.

“Green pick has high water content and offers only marginal energy so it is important to assess pastures carefully before ceasing supplementary feeding.”

Ms Curnow said the department would soon have available online information allowing producers and stakeholders access to interactive industry data and trends.

The latest Sheep Notes publication is available from the department website agric.wa.gov.au

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