Sheep numbers in Australia will be one of the main factors that the Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee will consider when it meets on 1st April to review its forecast for 2018/19 and consider its first forecast for 2019/20. Sheep numbers at the start of the 2019/20 season will be determined by the number of sheep and lambs slaughtered over the season, the number of live sheep exported, and the number of lambs marked.
For the 2018 calendar year, the number of sheep slaughtered was 1.99 million head higher than in 2017. However, the number of sheep exported live fell by 0.8 million due to the moratorium on exports during the year. Overall, the number of sheep turned-off (i.e. slaughtered or exported live) increased by 1.18 million head. The number of lambs slaughtered also increased, by 0.29 million head. Given the anecdotal reports that I have heard about low lambing percentages and low ewe scanning rates due to the drought, it is almost certain, therefore, that sheep and lamb numbers in Australia will be lower at the start of the 2019/20 season.
Further details, including a chart showing the trends in the year-on-year change in slaughterings and live exports, as well as the change in the number of sheep and lambs slaughtered and exported live for calendar year 2018, are provided in the full edition of the NCWSBA Weekly Newsletter. Available to NCWSBA members.