Lamb slaughter in July 2017 totalled just over 1.65 million head– 9% higher than year-ago levels. Numbers processed for the year-to-date (January-July 2017) remain 4% lower year-on-year, at just over 12.65 million head (ABS).
Sheep slaughter in July 2017 saw a significant rise – up 15% from June 2017 and 59% year-on-year, to just above 480,000 head. For the year-to-date, however, the number of sheep processed tracked 6% 2016’s level, at just under 3.77 million head. The rebuilding phase of the national flock has seen producers retain more lambs over the past two years, many of which are coming through the system now as hoggets and older sheep. This, as well as the dry conditions during winter 2017, saw increased sheep turn off leading to spring 2017.
Lamb production for July 2017 totalled just above 38,000 tonnes carcase weight (cwt), up 16% year-on-year. The total volume for the year-to-date was 1% lower than the corresponding period in 2016, at close to 293,000 tonnes cwt – assisted by heavier carcases.
Mutton production for July 2017 saw a marked increase on year-ago levels – up 69%, to 12,250 tonnes cwt. Total volumes for the year-to-date were 2% lower year-on-year, close to 93,000 tonnes cwt.
Deteriorating seasonal conditions during recent months have seen increased supplementary feeding of stock. This, combined with genetic improvements over time, have seen carcase weights continue the long-term upward trend. National lamb and sheep carcase weights for the year-to-date increased 2% and 5%, to average 23.14kg and 24.64kg/head, respectively.