The Western Australian sheep and wool industries

Page last updated: Tuesday, 2 March 2021 - 2:08pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

This page provides up-to-date information on the production, consumption and trade (domestic and international) of sheep meat and wool in Western Australia. 

The Western Australian sheep flock

Distribution of sheep enterprises

Distribution of sheep enterprises in SW WA

This map shows the number of sheep growers in Western Australia (WA) by shire. The data is taken from the most recent Census survey in 2016; Census surveys are conducted every five years with the next being in 2021. Data is released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in the year following the survey. There are more than 4000 sheep producers in the state with about 82% of these producers managing a flock of more than 500 sheep. [Source: ABS data, Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development (DPIRD) analysis]

 

Sheep density

Sheep density in the SW WA

This map shows the sheep density by shire, measured as sheep per hectare. Sheep producers in the medium rainfall zone (south west area from Perth to Albany) and the cereal sheep zone (extending from Geraldton to Esperance) account for most of the sheep production in the state, with the producers in the medium rainfall zone running larger flocks than those in the cereal sheep zone. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Western Australian flock size

This chart displays the size (number of head in millions) of the WA sheep flock (blue line) including the size of the state breeding ewe flock (orange dashed line).  Turnoff includes sheep slaughtered, exported live and transferred interstate. [Source: ABS & Primary Industries & Regions South Australia (PIRSA) data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Gross value of the Western Australian livestock sector

This chart illustrates the gross value of production of key sectors of the WA livestock industries since 2010/11. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Flock composition in Western Australia

This is a visual representation of the changing composition of the WA sheep flock since 1990.  Over the years, ewe and lamb percentages have increased, with a corresponding decrease in the relative size of the wether flock. Rams have remained at a consistent proportion of the total flock. [Source: Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics & Science/ Meat & Livestock Australia (ABARES/MLA) data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Sheep turn-off

Turn-off by volume

This chart shows the number of head (in thousands) turned off from WA farms each year via the different avenues.  The analysis includes a breakdown of lambs and adult sheep slaughtered, as well as the number of head sent for live export or sent interstate. [Source: ABS & PIRSA data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Eastern States transfers

This graph compares the cumulative number of sheep transfers from WA to the Eastern States by year.  [Source: PIRSA data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Live exports

Volume of live sheep exported from WA and Australia

This chart shows the number of head (millions) sold through live export from both WA and Australia-wide (total) by year. Further information about live sheep export is available here.

The number of sheep exported live has been on a declining trend over the last decade. The sharp decline from 2017 was largely due to the mid-year trade suspension and reduced stocking rates on ships imposed following the Awassi Express incident of 2017.  Since then there have been numerous reviews of the standards required for live sheep exports to, or through, the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere summer.  The new requirements reduce the risk of heat stress in sheep to a very low level, while supporting a sustainable live sheep export trade. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Volume of live sheep exported by market

Pie chart illustrating the top 5 live export destinations by volume in 2019 and 2020

These charts illustrate the number of sheep exported live by market in 2019 and 2020. Kuwait and Qatar are consistently high volume buyers of WA sheep. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Value of live sheep exported from WA and Australia

This chart shows the value of live sheep exports from WA compared to Australia as a whole, by year.  [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Value of live sheep exported by market

Pie chart illustrating the top 5 live export destinations by value in 2019 and 2020

These charts show the relative value of live sheep exports from WA by market in 2019 and 2020. The Middle East is a key market for these sheep. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Sheep meat

The volume of sheep and lamb slaughter by year

This graph shows the number (head) of WA adult sheep and lambs slaughtered domestically by year.  [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Sheep and lamb slaughter volumes by month

This graph shows the WA adult sheep and lamb slaughter numbers by month. The solid lines represent the most recent complete year of data whereas the dotted lines represent a three-year monthly average. [Source: MLA data, DPIRD analysis]

 

The volume of sheep meat exports

This graph shows the quantity of sheep meat exported as mutton and lamb from WA by year (million kilograms carcase equivalent) [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Volume of sheep meat exported by market

Pie chart illustrating top 5 meat export destinations by quantity in 2019 and 2020

These charts show the volume (as a %) of WA sheep meat sold into export markets each year. This includes frozen and chilled carcase and boxed meat. In this time period China has been a consistently high volume buyer of sheep meat from WA. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

The value of sheep meat exports

This graph shows the value of mutton and lamb exports from WA by year. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

The value of sheep meat exported by market

Pie chart illustrating the top 5 destinations for WA sheepmeat by value in 2019 and 2020

These charts display the relative value of WA sheep meat exported by market in 2019 and 2020. This includes frozen and chilled carcase and boxed meat. [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Summary of sheep disposals by volume and value in WA

Diagram of different avenues of sheep disposals in 2020

This chart shows the percentage breakdown, numbers of head (thousands), tonnage (carcase equivalent) and value ($A million) of sheep disposals in WA either to live export markets, for domestic slaughter or interstate transfers in 2020.  The majority of WA sheep disposals are destined for domestic slaughter, with sheep meat destined for local consumption or exported as chilled or frozen sheep meat. [Source: ABS & PIRSA data, DPIRD analysis]

 

The wool industry

Wool exports by volume for WA and Australia

The chart compares the volume of greasy wool exports from WA (right axis) to the total volume of Australian wool exports (left axis). [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Wool exports by value for WA and Australia

This chart shows the value of wool exports by year from WA (right axis) compared to the total value of Australian wool exports (left axis).  [Source: ABS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Fibre diameter in WA and Australia

This chart shows the average fibre diameter of wool in WA compared to the national flock, starting from 1998/99. There is a decreasing trend in fibre diameter particularly in the WA wool clip. [Source: Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) Key Test Data]

 

Market Indicators

Trade lamb indicator

This chart shows the changes in lamb prices in c/kg carcase weight (cwt) for both the sale yard indicator (SYI) and over-the-hooks indicator (OTHI).  [Source: MLA National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Mutton indicator

This graph shows the changes in mutton prices in c/kg carcase weight (cwt) for both the sale yard indicator (SYI) and over-the-hooks indicator (OTHI).  [Source: MLA NLRS data, DPIRD analysis]

 

Wool indicator

This chart demonstrates the changes in the Western Market Indicator (WMI) and the Western 19 Micron Price Guide (W19) on a monthly basis. [Source: Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) data, DPIRD analysis]

 

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