ABS Report: Record Lamb Slaughter and Meat Production Surge in 2023 Signals Booming Livestock Industry Growth in Australia

23 February 2024

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently disclosed its quarterly data concerning slaughtered livestock and meat production, unveiling remarkable figures. Notably, there has been a historic surge in lamb production, with a calendar year lamb slaughter totalling 24,909,600 head, setting a new record.

This upsurge in lamb slaughter and production can be attributed to a significant flock rebuild initiated since 2020. In the year 2023 alone, Australia witnessed the production of 599,461 tonnes of lambs, marking the highest output ever recorded in a calendar year. Consequently, there was an abundance of lamb products available both domestically and in crucial export markets

Lamb slaughter experienced a notable uptick by 16.38%, reaching 24,909,600 head. This unprecedented figure exceeded the previous record, set in 2016, by 1,953,400 head. The surge was propelled by the largest sheep flock observed in 15 years, comprising a substantial number of ewes and lambs, consequently resulting in record slaughter and production rates.

Despite initial apprehensions regarding processing capacity, the latest data suggests that facilities have proven capable of managing the increased numbers supplied. Lamb carcass weights exhibited a slight decrease of 3.64% to 24.09kg, which closely aligns with the optimal domestic carcass weight preferred by Australian retailers (24kg).

Moreover, there was a significant uptick in sheep and mutton production, with mutton production witnessing a remarkable 43% increase, totalling 246,003 tonnes, the highest since 2006.

In 2023, Australia boasted its largest cattle herd in over a decade, reaching a total of 28.8 million head. Concurrently, processing capacity expanded to accommodate just over 7 million cattle slaughtered, marking a 20% increase compared to 2022, thereby setting a new record for slaughter volume since 2020.

Beef production also experienced a noteworthy 18% surge year-on-year, reaching 2,210,954 tonnes, the highest figure recorded since 2019.

The female slaughter rate (FSR) for the December quarter stood at 46.87%, indicating a phase of marginal growth for the Australian cattle herd following two consecutive destocking periods.

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