Meat & Livestock News

A Year of Growth for Australia’s Livestock Sector: Record Production Achieved


  • Australia witnessed a record lamb production and slaughter in 2023, with over 24.9 million heads processed, marking the highest calendar year slaughter to date.
  • Sheep and mutton production also saw significant increases, with mutton production reaching its highest since 2006.
  • The cattle sector experienced growth with the largest herd in over a decade and a notable increase in beef production, indicating a phase of marginal growth for the Australian cattle herd.

In 2023, the Australian livestock sector experienced unprecedented growth, setting new records in lamb production and slaughter, according to the latest quarterly statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The country produced a historic high of 599,461 tonnes of lamb, making more products available both domestically and for key export markets.

The lamb slaughter rate surged by 16.38% to 24,909,600 head, exceeding the previous record set in 2016 by 1,953,400 head. This increase was attributed to the largest sheep flock seen in 15 years, driven by significant flock rebuilding efforts since 2020.

The sector’s success was not limited to lamb production. Sheep and mutton production also saw a remarkable rise, with a 43% increase in mutton production, totalling 246,003 tonnes – the highest figure since 2006.

Despite concerns about processing capacity, the industry demonstrated its ability to handle the increased supply, with lamb carcase weights slightly decreasing by 3.64% to an average of 24.09kg, aligning closely with the ideal domestic carcase weight for Australian retailers.

The cattle industry also reported growth, boasting its largest herd in over a decade at 28.8 million head. Processing capacity expanded to accommodate over 7 million cattle slaughtered in 2023, a 20% increase from the previous year and the highest slaughter volume since 2020.

Beef production rose by 18% year-on-year to 2,210,954 tonnes, marking the highest production level since 2019. The female slaughter rate (FSR) for the December quarter stood at 46.87%, indicating a period of marginal growth for the Australian cattle herd following two consecutive destocking periods.

This data, provided by Emily Tan, Market Information Analyst, underscores a year of significant achievements for Australia’s livestock sector, highlighting its resilience and capacity for growth amidst challenges.

The industry’s robust performance in 2023 sets a positive outlook for the future, with continued efforts towards sustainable growth and market expansion expected to drive further success in the years to come.