Meat & Livestock News

MLA’s Latest Cattle and Sheep Industry Projections for 2024


  • The Australian cattle herd is expected to slightly decrease by less than 1% to 28.6 million head by mid-2024, entering a maintenance phase with increased slaughter rates forecasted.
  • Sheep flock to reduce by 2.9% to 76.5 million, with high marking rates indicating a focus on productivity and genetics despite the contraction.
  • Both cattle and sheep sectors anticipate increased production, with beef production expected to rise by 10.8% and lamb production by 9% in 2024, amidst global market opportunities and challenges.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has released its first industry projections for 2024, providing a detailed outlook for the cattle and sheep sectors over the next three years. These projections cover herd and flock sizes, slaughter rates, production volumes, and carcass weights, alongside an analysis of domestic and global market influences.

The Australian cattle herd is forecasted to marginally decrease to 28.6 million head by 30 June 2024, reflecting a shift to a maintenance phase after a period of high turn-off rates. Despite this slight reduction, slaughter rates are expected to rise by 11.7% in 2024 to 7.9 million head, the highest since 2019, leading to a 10.8% increase in beef production to 2.5 million tonnes.

In contrast, the Australian sheep flock is projected to decrease by 2.9% to 76.5 million in 2024. This reduction comes despite impressive marking rates achieved through a focus on productivity and genetics. Lamb and mutton slaughter rates are also expected to rise, with lamb production increasing by 9% to 621,000 tonnes and mutton by 3.1% to 254,000 tonnes, indicating a strong presence of Australian sheepmeat in global markets.

The global outlook highlights the United States as Australia’s primary competitor in beef exports, with potential opportunities for Australian beef due to anticipated herd rebuilding in the US. For sheepmeat, Australia’s increased production positions it well in global markets, despite uncertainties in consumer demand, particularly in China.

MLA will host webinars to delve deeper into these projections, offering stakeholders an opportunity to engage with the Market Information team for insights into the cattle and sheep industries’ future.