AUSTRALIA - The high drought-induced lamb slaughter seen throughout 2013 maintained momentum into the first few months of 2014, with ample lamb supplies continuing to come through, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.
It was a similar trend in May, with national lamb slaughter easing only one per cent compared to last year, totalling 2.01 million head – the highest month of slaughter so far this year.
Lamb slaughter in Victoria was back four per cent year-on-year, at 859,312 head, while levels in SA lifted five per cent, at 382,484 head, and numbers in NSW remained firm during the month, at 446,608 head. In WA, May lamb slaughter was down two per cent year-on-year, totalling 224,655 head.
The slight decline in lamb slaughter was offset by a year-on-year increase (one per cent) in production, reaching 44,429 tonnes cwt in May, underpinned by average lamb carcase rates lifting two per cent over the same period, to 22.1kg/head.
Australian mutton slaughter was 788,122 head in May, back six per cent year-on-year, largely attributed to an eight per cent decrease in sheep slaughter in NSW, at 190,707 head, and a 22 per cent fall in WA, at 102,599 head.
Despite this, total mutton production only declined two per cent, at 17,386 tonnes cwt during May, assisted by an increase (four per cent) in the national average sheep carcase weight, at 22.06kg/head for the month.
Looking ahead, it is likely that lamb supply is likely to tighten in the coming months, given the sustained high levels of both lamb and sheep slaughter over the past year, along with reportedly poor joining and scanning rates during the hot and dry conditions in summer.
TheMeatSite News Desk