Meat & Livestock News

Factors Influencing Sheep Producers’ On-Farm Decisions

Weather remains the primary factor influencing decision-making among sheep producers. This concern aligns with the Bureau of Meteorology’s report that Australia is experiencing an El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) phase. Approximately 47.4% of on-farm decisions are influenced by weather or feed considerations.

The size of the property also plays a significant role in determining concerns. Larger properties focus on financial aspects, including input costs, interest rates, the broader economy, and land prices. 

In contrast, smaller producers, with the average age of a sheep farmer in Australia being 63, are more inclined towards personal matters like age, retirement, and succession planning. Larger farms also show a heightened concern about labour, five times more than their smaller counterparts, and are more oriented towards mixed farming considerations.

In Western Australia, the primary concern is not the weather but live export. The state’s producers also place a higher emphasis on processor and abattoir space. This data was collected in May, before the three-and-a-half-month live export northern summer moratorium. 

Feedback indicates that limited processor capacities have pressured producers to find suitable markets for their stock, narrowing the window for destocking in preferred markets.

The Sheep Producer Intentions Survey, a collaboration between Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), aids the industry in forecasting wool and lamb production. It also provides insights into the breed composition of the Australian flock on various scales. 

The May 2023 survey edition offers a comprehensive look into producer commentary on decision-making.