Livestock analysts say drought-diminished lamb production is likely to drop even further as farmers do what they can to regrow their flocks and tap into high prices for wool, lamb and mutton.
Australia’s lamb meat production dropped more than 10 per cent between November 2017 and November 2018, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Friday, with numbers tightening after mass destocking amid an ongoing east coast drought.
Mercado analyst Robert Herrmann said we could see even less lamb coming to market as farmers strive to rebuild.
“We’ve been sending them all to market because of drought, but when seasonal conditions come good, farmers are most likely going to do what they can to regrow their flocks,” he said.
“Prices as they are, they will be desperately trying to hold onto their sheep, so we might see (production and slaughter) fall further, and maybe push prices higher.”
November’s livestock slaughter and meat figures show cattle and pig production was also down for the month, with veal slightly higher.
Slaughter and meat production remains significantly higher for the year, however, because drought forced farmers to ship large numbers of sheep and cattle to market.
That’s except for lamb, with slaughter dropping 9.2 per cent between November 2017 and November 2018, while lamb meat production has fallen 10.6 per cent over the same period.
Mr Herrmann said NSW alone had two million less lambs for the year.
“We’re now seeing supply meet demand, but we’re still suspicious that that is because the spring flush came on a bit later and numbers have been drawn out a bit,” he said.
“We might not have felt the full impact (of reduced supply) yet.”