SHEEPMEAT exports from Western Australia reached record values in 2019, according to the latest sheep industry snapshot from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).
Its Sheep Notes reports a 12 per cent increase in the volume of lamb and mutton exports compared with the previous year.
DPIRD research officer Kate Pritchett said WA sheepmeat exports reached 84.1 million kilograms in 2019, worth a record $596.6 million.
"Growth was led by mutton exports, which increased in value to $259.2m, up 52pc year-on-year," Ms Pritchett said.
"The largest sheepmeat markets were China, Qatar and the United States."
Ms Pritchett said WA sheep numbers had been relatively stable in recent years but increased demand would put pressure on maintaining the flock size.
As of July 2019, the flock consisted of 14.3m sheep and lambs, including 7.8m breeding ewes.
"The size of the flock is projected to decrease in 2019/20 to between 12.9m and 13.4m head, due to the high number of sheep processed, as well as high numbers of sheep moving interstate," she said.
"However, this may have been tempered to some degree by reduced numbers of sheep exported live."
DPIRD senior development officer Mandy Curnow said with WA in the midst of lambing, good nutrition of ewes would be crucial to maintaining the sheep flock.
"Feed on offer available to ewes is still low in most paddocks so continuing supplementary feeding will be crucial to most producers," Ms Curnow said.
"Green pick has high water content and offers only marginal energy so it is important to assess pastures carefully before ceasing supplementary feeding."
Ms Curnow said DPIRD would soon have available online information allowing producers and stakeholders access to interactive industry data and trends.
The latest Sheep Notes publication is available at agric.wa.gov.au