Sheep notes


WA sheep industry

  • The WA sheep flock numbered 12.4 million as of the 1st of July 2022 according to the ABS.
  • The gross value of the sheep industry was $1.35 billion during 2021/22. This was made up of $655 million of wool and $692 million of sheepmeat, including live exports.


  • WA Sheep and lamb slaughter totalled 3.75m in 2022. Of this 1.18m were adult sheep and 2.57m were lambs.
  • Between 2010 and 2022, the highest level of slaughter reached was 4.25m in 2019. That was made up of 1.7m adult sheep and 2.55m lambs.
  • The highest slaughter on record was reached in 1976- 6.46m, 70% of which was adult sheep. This was when we were predominantly a wool industry and had a much larger flock.
  • Around 19% of domestic slaughter or 18m kg was consumed on the domestic market in 2022.

Meat exports

  • In 2022 WA exported 76.2m kg of sheepmeat. This consisted of 32.9m kg of mutton and 43.3m kg of lamb.
  • Sheepmeat exports were worth $627.7m in 2022 (the highest on record)- $197.2m of mutton and $430.4m of lamb, also the highest on record.
  • China was our largest market for sheepmeat accounting for 40% of the volume of sheepmeat exported. The USA followed with 12% and Malaysia was 3rd with 7%.

Live exports

  • In 2022 WA exported 521,300 live sheep in total. WA accounted for 99.3% of the national total. WA live sheep exports were worth $80.6m in 2022 (sea and air).
  • Of the total live sheep exported 508,400 were exported by sea, and all animals exported by sea departed via Fremantle. This was worth $75.8m.
  • 12,400 were exported by air from Perth airport, plus 3850 from Sydney airport and 301 from Melbourne airport.
  • Between 2011 and 2017 the number of sheep exported by sea remained relatively steady hovering between 1.7 and 1.9m head per annum. In 2018 and 2019 it fell to around 1.0m due to changing regulations and then declined to around 0.5m in 2021.
  • Of the sheep exported live by sea in 2022, 53% were exported to Kuwait, 19% to the UAE, 18% to Israel and 5% to both Oman and Qatar (Qatar is believed to have stepped back into the market due to the Soccer World Cup).

Interstate transfers

  • In 2022 a total of 368,000 sheep were transferred interstate. This was made up of 247,000 lambs (67%) and 121,000 adult sheep (33%). This was down significantly on the 678,000 in 2021 and the 1.9m in 2020.  


  • The volume of wool tested for sale in 2022 reached 66.2m kg and made up 20% of the national volume of wool tested.
  • The AWI shorn wool production final estimate for WA in 2021/22 was 61.2m kg with a wool cut per head of 4.6kg.
  • WA wool exports totalled 67m kg worth $696.5m in 2022.
  • 92% of WA wool exports were exported to China in 2022 and 7% to India.