Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) have released their July 2023 industry projections for the sheep sector today. In terms of the flock numbers there have been slight revisions downwards over the coming seasons, reflective of higher sheep slaughter estimates and the prospect of reduced numbers of breeding ewes.
There have been no changes to the 2023 flock estimate of 78.75 million head. However, MLA have shaved 0.4% off their February flock estimates for the 2024 season. Next year flock numbers are expected to reach 79.2 million head, down from 79.5 million head from the February projections. Similarly, 2025 has seen a 1% reduction in the flock from 78.5 million head to 77.7 million head.
Driving the slower pace of the flock rebuild are higher sheep slaughter figures. In 2023 MLA expect to see a further 3.1% sheep slaughtered lifting the total annual slaughter from 7.6 to 7.8 million head. In 2024 sheep slaughter has also been revised up by 2.7% from 8.5 million head to 8.7 million head. An extra 3.6% has been added to the 2025 estimate too, increasing from the 9.5 million head quoted in their February projections release to 9.8 million head for the July projections.
Meanwhile annual lamb slaughter forecasts have been pared back by 3.3% across 2023, 2024 and 2025. MLA now estimate 21.9 million head of lamb to be processed in 2023, compared to their original February estimate of 22.6 million head. In 2024 lamb slaughter is set at 22.4 million head versus 23.2 million head. Similarly, in 2025 MLA predict lamb slaughter at 22.2 million head instead of the 23.0 million head from their February projections.