Aussie lamb slaughter above 2021 levels


The processing sector crisis created by the COVID wave seems to ease for the first time this year.

Posted on Feb 14 ,10:21

Aussie lamb slaughter above 2021 levels

In the first five weeks of 2022, Australia's national slaughter numbers were subdued as processors’ workforces were decimated by mandatory isolation periods for close contacts and positive cases of COVID-19. However, last week, processor numbers started to lift and reflect 2021 throughput.
For the first five weeks of 2022, 288,000 fewer lambs were processed compared to the start of 2021. Last week 374,000 lambs were slaughtered, 9% above the corresponding week in 2021. This highlights that COVID-19-related disruptions to the supply chain have been minimised, announced Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) in a market report.

For lamb, the reduced capacity of processors corresponded to the peak lamb turn-off times of spring and summer. It’s likely this has prolonged the spring/summer influx of lambs, with 2021 lambs still expected to hit the market in March and April. The uplift in processor capacity provides strong demand factors which may help push prices up in the short term. However, there may be some impact on producer prices if there is an oversupply of lambs onto the market in late summer and early autumn, MLA considers.
Sheep slaughter has recovered from COVID-19-related reductions in processor capacity, with more than 100,000 head processed last week. In the first five weeks of 2022, sheep slaughter was down 100,000 head on the corresponding period in 2021. Cattle slaughter for the first five weeks of 2022 was 92,000 head below 2021 levels. Last week, national cattle slaughter rose an astonishing 39% to 91,938 head. This is the first time national cattle slaughter has exceeded 90,000 head for 2022. At this level, cattle slaughter is 8% below 2021 levels.

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