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Australia Wool Output Set for 90 Year Low

30 September 2014

AUSTRALIA – Australia’s wool production for the coming season will slump to a ninety year low, according to the latest expert prediction.

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee expects 328 million kilograms for the 2014/15 season, a drop of 3.7 per cent on last season. 

The committee has said that the lowest wool production since 1924/25 follows a prolonged drought period which has forced operations to slaughter breeding stock.

Higher slaughter rates have contracted an already shrinking national flock by a further five per cent to an estimated 71.7 million head, 57 per cent lower than the 1990 figure of 170 million.

Queensland’s wool decline is expected to be the biggest at 25 per cent. In contrast, South Australian production will buck the trend and lift 1.9 per cent.

Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania are predicted drops of between 0.6 and 3 per cent.

Lower wool in Tasmania will come despite unchanged sheep numbers at 2.4 million head, the committee added.

Committee chairman Russell Pattinson explained that lower production comes despite a forecast rise in average fleece weights.

He said: "The fall in shorn wool production reflects a decline in the 2014/15 opening sheep numbers and the expected number of sheep to be shorn, which were affected by the high sheep slaughter rates in 2013/14".

Livestock prices and a trend of slaughtering lambs younger can also be blamed on a drop in production, said wool market analyst Chris Wilcox.

Writing for the American Sheep Industry Association, Mr Wilcox said: “In the past five years or more there has been a significant shift in Australia’s sheep industry towards producing more lambs for slaughter, away from retaining lambs for wool.”

By territory, New South Wales and Queensland wool producers will see their flocks decrease the most at 1.4 million and 600,000 head respectively.

Australia’s biggest sheep territory, lost the most ewes this year– down 1.4 million. Queensland is set to have 600,000 head fewer for the coming season.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Meteorology sees little sign of drought condition lifting over the coming weeks.

Projections from September to November say high temperature and low rainfall are likely.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms.