Meat & Livestock News

Australian Red Meat Industry Hits Record Production in Beef and Lamb


  • Australia achieved record lamb production in 2023, with a 12.05% increase from 2022, marking the largest quarterly lamb slaughter on record.
  • Cattle slaughter also saw a significant rise, reaching over 7 million, a 20% increase year-on-year, contributing to an 18% increase in beef production.
  • The industry’s success is attributed to the largest sheep flock in 15 years and a robust national herd, despite challenges in processing capacity and market demands.

In 2023, the Australian red meat industry celebrated another milestone year, setting new records in both lamb and beef production. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released figures showing a remarkable increase in meat production, with lamb production reaching 246,003 tonnes, a 12.05% rise from the previous year. This surge was highlighted by the fourth quarter of 2023, witnessing the highest quarterly lamb slaughter ever recorded at 6,674,500 lambs.

The year also marked a significant achievement in cattle slaughter, with numbers tipping over 7 million to 7,028,900, marking a 20% increase from 2022. This contributed to an 18% rise in beef production compared to the previous year, the largest since 2019. The increase in cattle slaughter and beef production reflects the strength of Australia’s national herd and the meat processing sector’s capacity to handle the surge.

Stephen Bignell, Manager – Market Information at Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), noted the record-breaking figures as a testament to the industry’s resilience and the successful flock rebuild since 2020. The largest sheep flock in 15 years, including a significant number of ewes and lambs, has propelled Australia to these record slaughter and production rates.

Despite concerns over processing facilities’ capacity to manage the backlog of lambs, the industry managed to maintain strong exports and domestic availability, enjoyed by many Australians over the summer.

The year also saw a record in sheep and mutton production, with a 43% increase in mutton production to 246,003 tonnes, the largest calendar year of mutton production since 2006. This achievement underscores the industry’s ongoing commitment to innovation and efficiency, ensuring Australia remains a global leader in red meat production.

The record production year for beef, with an 18% increase year-on-year to 2,210,954 tonnes, was supported by a robust national herd and the processing sector’s adept handling of the increased numbers. The female slaughter ratio (FSR) for the last quarter also indicated a marginal growth phase in the Australian cattle herd, following two consecutive destocking periods in mid-2022.

These achievements highlight the Australian red meat industry’s adaptability and strength, poised to continue its legacy of excellence in the global market.