THE WA sheep industry has grave concerns abourt declining flock numbers and the flow-on affect this will have on the industry.
According to The Department of Agriculture and Food 2016 Sheep Notes, the WA sheep flock had contracted from 15.5 million head in 2012/13 and is now estimated to contain 14m sheep and lambs as of July 1 2015, including 7.5m breeding ewes.
The total turnoff for the State in 2014/15 reached 5.5m head, down from 5.9m in 2013/14.
This included 1.3m sheep slaughtered, 2.4m lambs slaughtered, 1.8m sheep exported live and 43,500 transferred interstate.
With numbers indicating further decrease, - the industry is at a critical level at the moment.
Wool expert Peter Morris said a decreasing State flock could have huge ramifications for the entire industry, in particular the wool industry.
"This closure could happen," Mr Morris said.
"Exporters are already at a situation, where they have already seen a reduction in numbers.
"If the sheep numbers reduce any further you will see more exporters leave the industry.
"My main concern is, if we see that, there will be a loss in skills.
"To replace wool buyers, it's almost impossible and it will impact growers."
A reduction in volume also would effect competition, Mr Morris said.
He believes the reduction would effect everyone from the producer, right through to the shipping companies.
"We have faith, there is a good future ahead," he said.
"It's the first time in my career, there is no extra supply... and no stockpile.
"For the first time we have seen demand greater than supply.
"That has helped us get into the higher percentile for 21-22 microns.
"We have seen some positives, but I don't want to see a reduction in staffing in the industry, we need to increase opportunities.
"We need to focus on this together, so all sectors need to come together."
The industry has already made a move to try overcome further loss.
In May, Sheep Industry Leadership Council (SILC) announced a meeting of executives from all sectors of the WA sheep industry supply chain agreed to restructure the council in the interests of generating sustainable industry growth in the face of a declining sheep population.
SILC was formed by the State government in 2011, with a charter to create and oversee the strategy of helping lift the WA sheep industry's productivity and growth.
However a review has highlighted SILC's current structure did not provide sufficient linkages to industry groups, processors and live exporters and a restructure was called for, to deliver best-possible engagement and ownership of all relevant parties.
The revamped body known as The Sheep Alliance of WA, where membership is open to all entities that are key contributors to the WA sheep supply chain and/or working towards improving the industry's profitability was officially announced last Friday.
Outgoing SILC chairman Rob Warburton and industry representatives discussed the real life ramifications if the decreasing number trend continues and said the way forward was collaboration.
"We have always wanted to get industry to collaborate," Mr Warburton said.
"It's either collaborate or die; because that's what every other industry has had to do.
"That's what industry is going to have to do moving forward, because on your own you are going to do nothing to fix this industry.
"Starting from today, we need to work as one unit to drive this industry in WA forward - that's the hardest task."
Mr Warburton said tasks needed to be put back into the industry's hands.
"It is an exciting opportunity now, to reinvent what we (SILC) had done, into a new body, with industry owning and running it," he said.
"You need to take responsibility of your industry.
"You can't sit back and criticise from the outside, if you are not doing anything yourself."
One way to boost numbers was to focus on reproduction, he said.
Mr Warburton and consultant Dr Jason Trompf agreed that lambing percentages were the future.
As WA had the lowest production rate in the last five years compared to other States, Dr Trompf said industry needed to focus on the first 48 hours from birth to drive a bigger State flock, focus on scanning for multiples and focus on lambing strategies.