The release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) livestock slaughter data last week allows us to check in on the status of the flock cycle and measure if we are officially in liquidation phase or still rebuilding. Historically, the threshold level that denotes the move from rebuild to liquidation (or vice versa) is a sheep turnoff ratio (STR) of 14%. Above 14% and the Australia sheep flock is in a liquidation phase, below 14% and the flock is rebuilding.
The September 2023 STR has come in at 12.6%, up from 11.9% in June 2023. So we are still 1.4% away from officially moving into flock liquidation phase, but the trend toward liquidation for the STR is clearly evident. As an annual average the STR for 2023 sits at 11.3% which, based on the historic scatter plot between annual flock change to annual average STR, suggests and increase to the flock is still likely for 2023 of around 4%. Current MLA projections (from their July 2023 report) have the flock increasing by 3.6% in 2023 and that seems about right, given the current STR levels.