Australian Sheep Producers Face "Best Year Yet"
March 10, 2017

Sheep producers in Australia could be in for their best year yet, according to predictions made at the Meat and Livestock Australia forum this week.

A number of factors - including a small national sheep flock, a desire for producers to retain ewes and burgeoning export demand - will see sheep meat export volumes lower but prices higher for the remainder of 2017. With sky-rocketing wool prices, the industry is looking the best it has for years according to MLA chief analyst Ben Thomas.

Thomas told the group that there were "pretty good reasons to believe that this will be our strongest year yet for the sheep industry. You look at all commodities - lamb, mutton and wool - and there has never been a time when all three have been so high.

"It is more enticing than ever to retain ewes and build up the flock. So after we see production drop this year slightly, we are expecting these market signals to lead to a recovery in lamb production next year," continued Thomas.

The high prices and the subsequent impetus for producers to hold onto ewes would mean a supply drop this year. Lamb production is predicted to fall 4 percent compared to the record production in 2016.

"We are anticipating a particularly tight supply of lamb and mutton in 2017," said Thomas. "This will be the first year-on-year production drop for several years."

Reprinted in part from Sheep Central