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Sheep flock sizes at lowest levels in over a century

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According to preliminary estimates released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia's sheep flock continued to decline in 2009-10. The flock is now at its lowest level in more than 100 years.

Sheep numbers (including lambs) are at their lowest level since 1905. Despite herd rebuilding in some regions, both milk and meat cattle numbers also decreased, by 5% and 4% respectively. Pig numbers remained relatively steady.

Other figures show that, despite periods of unfavourable weather in some regions, estimates reveal that recovery in production has continued for a range of major broadacre crops during the previous season.

And production for many broadacre crops, such as wheat, oats, cotton and canola has increased slightly when compared with the year 2008-2009. While remaining at historically low levels, rice production is up on recent years (more than doubling since the last season).


  • Lowest flock size 1905
  • Sheep and lamb numbers fell to 67.7 million head, a fall of 7% from 2008-09
  • Milk cattle numbers decreased by 5%, compared to 2008-09, to 2.5 million head
  • Meat cattle decreased by 4% to 24.3 million head
  • Wheat production rose 2%, compared to 2008-09, to 22.0 million tonnes
  • Rice production was 198,000 tonnes, over double the production for 2008-09, but still less than one-fifth of production in 1999-2000
  • Production of barley for grain fell by 1% to 7.9 million tonnes
  • Cotton production increased by 22% to 376,000 tonnes

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