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Australian sheep producers have reported a total breeding flock of 42.5 million head, an increase of 500,000 ewes since last year, according to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI) Wool and Sheepmeat Survey Report for June 2022.

The survey, run three times a year, collects sheepmeat industry livestock numbers and lamb production expectations.

Merinos accounted for 72% of the total breeding ewe flock. Merino breeding ewes were further divided into Merino ewes for pure bred Merino production and Merino ewes for crossbred production and ‘other’ Merinos, accounting for 51%, 19%, and 2% of the merino flock, respectively.

There were 22 million lambs on hand reported by Australian producers.

Merinos made up 55% of the total lamb flock, at 12 million head, followed by First Cross and Pure Meat lambs (accounting for 19% and 17% of the national lamb flock respectively).

The breeding ewe population was largest in the Great Southern region of Western Australia at 5.6m, Central West NSW at 5.0m and Southeast NSW at 4.8m.

While the number of lambs on hand in the survey was greatest in Central West NSW at 3.1 million. This was followed by southern WA at around 2.7m head.

A total of 7.3 million lambs were marked in the four months. Merinos accounted for the largest proportion of lambs marked in the past four months at 47%. First cross breeds and Pure meat accounting for 28% and 18%, respectively.

A total number of 7.6 million lambs are expected to be sold in the next four months, approximately 34% of the total number of lambs on hand. Of these: Merino, First cross breeds and Pure Meat are expected to account for 36%, 29% and 23% of lamb sales respectively.