The Western Australian sheep and wool industries

Page last updated: Thursday, 16 May 2019 - 2:07pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

There are 14.7 million sheep and lambs in Western Australia (2017- figure has been adjusted to account for ABS changes in scope). They are mostly co-located in the cropping regions across southern Western Australia (WA), with some grazing in adjacent rangelands. Sheepmeat and wool are the key products produced by sheep in WA.

The sheep industry contributes almost half of the gross value of agricultural production from all livestock industries in WA. This is made up of $826 million for wool and $551 million for sheepmeat (including live exports).

Sheep, lamb and wool production

Sheep and lamb turn off

In 2016/17, some 3.8 million sheep and lambs, over two thirds of turn off for the year, were processed producing 86 600 tonnes of sheepmeat. Seventy seven per cent of the sheepmeat with a value of $366 million was exported to markets in over 50 countries. The five largest destinations by volume were China (20%), United Arab Emirates (10%), USA (9%), Saudi Arabia (8%) and Jordan (6%).

Pie chart illustrating top 5 sheepmeat markets for WA in 2016/17
The destinations for WA sheepmeat exports by volume in 2016/17 (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)

A further 1.7 million sheep were exported live to eight countries, mostly in the Middle East. The value of live sheep exports was A$203 million in 2016/17. The three largest markets by volume were Kuwait (34%), Qatar (33%) and Jordan (10%).

Pie chart illustrating top 5 live sheep markets for WA in 2016/17
Destinations for WA live sheep exports in 2016/17 by volume (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)

Wool production and exports

Western Australia produced approximately 71.1 million kilograms (kg) of greasy wool in 2016/17. Over 95% of the wool produced is fine Merino wool measuring less than 24.5 micron, suitable for apparel. Fine wool, with a fibre diameter under 19.6 micron, made up 41% of the 'clip' (total amount shorn).

The entire Western Australian wool clip is exported or transported interstate. During 2016/17 around 82% of the wool exports went to China with India (8%) and the Czech Republic (5%) the next largest destinations.

Pie chart illustrating top markets for WA wool in 2016/17
Destinations for WA wool in 2016/17 by volume (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)


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Kate Pritchett