The slaughter roller coaster

Livestock | 2nd September 2021 | By Matt Dalgleish

The Snapshot

  • There was a 40% drop in volumes noted for Victorian sheep processing between the 20th to the 27th of August as Covid-19 workforce restrictions limited kill space.
  • However, there was an 85% rebound ┬áin NSW saw sheep slaughter volumes after the return of Fletcher’s Dubbo abattoir to the sale yards.
  • NSW lamb slaughter eased by just 2% to record 97,730 lamb processed, ,meanwhile Victoria posted a 5% drop to 153,122 head.

The Detail

A look at weekly east coast sheep slaughter levels for the week ending 27th August and you could assume that the flows to processors have been pretty uneventful with volumes almost unchanged from the week prior. A total of 59,115 sheep were processed in east coast abattoirs compared to 60,685 head for the week ending on 20th August.

However, further investigation into the detail of weekly flows within the largest two sheep processing states of Victoria and New South Wales shows a very different picture.

In Victoria the state government announced a workforce capacity restriction that would limit the metropolitan Melbourne meat works to just 80% staff and it appears that sheep missed out on the available kill floor space with a 40% drop in volumes noted between the 20th to the 27th of August.

Weekly Victorian sheep slaughter volumes had been tracking pretty closely to the five-year average trend since the Easter processing lull in April but the drop to just 23,854 head for the week ending 27th August placed processing volumes at levels 43% under the average pattern for this time in the season.

In contrast, the return of Fletcher’s Dubbo abattoir in NSW saw sheep slaughter volumes there rebound by 85% to hit nearly 30,000 head for the week ending the 27th August and largely offset the drop seen in Victorian volumes.

Weekly lamb slaughter volumes were less volatile, with both NSW and Victoria registering declines from the previous week. NSW lamb slaughter eased by just 2% to record 97,730 lamb processed, meanwhile Victoria posted a 5% drop to 153,122 head.

Despite the reduced number of lambs processed in each state the levels are on par with their respective five-year trend. NSW lamb slaughter sits just 3% under the seasonal average and Victoria is 4% above the five-year pattern.

Unsurprisingly, the total east coast lamb slaughter numbers are sitting right at the five-year average with 307,288 recorded processed for the week ending on 27th August.

Tags

  • Slaughter
  • Lamb
  • Sheep
  • covid19
  • Processing