The Western Australian sheep and wool industries

Page last updated: Wednesday, 5 August 2020 - 12:15pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

As of July 2018, there were 14.5 million sheep and lambs in Western Australia. 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 over half of the gross value of agricultural production from all livestock industries in WA. This is made up of $995 million for wool and $584 million for sheepmeat (including live exports).

Sheep, lamb and wool production

Sheep and lamb turn-off

In 2017/18, some four million sheep and lambs, over two thirds of turn-off for the year, were processed on-shore producing 86 300 tonnes of sheepmeat. The WA sheep industry is very export dominant and 83% of the sheepmeat processed in WA with a value of $424 million was exported to markets in 47 countries. The five largest destinations by volume were China (28%), Malaysia (9%), the USA (8%), Saudi Arabia (8%) and the United Arab Emirates (7%).

Pie chart illustrating the top 5 sheepmeat destinations in 2017/18
Weatern Australian sheepmeat markets by volume in 2017/18 (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)

A further 1.6 million sheep were exported live to 10 countries, mostly in the Middle East. The value of live sheep exports was A$209 million in 2017/18. The three largest markets by volume were Qatar (32%), Kuwait (28%) and Turkey (19%).

Pie chart illustrating WA's top live sheep markets in 2017/18
Western Australian live sheep markets by volume in 2017/18 (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)

Sheep meat exports by volume, value and destinations

Turnoff of sheep 2017-18

Wool production and exports

Western Australia produced approximately 65.1 million kilograms (kg) of greasy wool in 2017/18. 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 55% of the 'clip' (total amount shorn).

The entire WA wool clip is exported or transported interstate. During 2017/18 around 84% of the wool exported went to China with India (7%) and the Czech Republic (5%) the next largest destinations.

Pie chart illustrating WA's wool export markets by volume in 2017/18
Western Australian wool export markets by volume in 2017/18 (Based on ABS data, DPIRD analysis)

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Kate Pritchett