Australia is the world’s largest exporter of sheep meat and the second largest producer of lamb and mutton. In Australia sheep are produced in a wide range of climates, from the arid and semi-arid parts of the inland region to the high rainfall areas of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the southwest corner of Western Australia. All Australian sheep are raised on pasture and the significant majority are also finished on pasture. Around 5% of sheep farmers grain finish their lamb to optimise growth.
Names for Australian sheep meat explained...
Lamb and mutton are terms used to describe sheep at different stages of their lifecycle. Lamb is classified as an ovine animal that is under 12 months of age or does not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear. Prime Lamb is a term used in Australia to generally refer to lambs that are raised for meat. Whereas Spring lamb is the term given to the seasonal peak in supply, following the traditional breeding cycle. Lambs are born in the previous winter and sold in the following spring at approximately 12 months of age. And finally, Mutton is classified as a sheep that has at least one permanent incisor tooth. Generally mutton is over 12 months of age and considered an adult sheep.
The size of the Australian sheep flock fluctuates in response to varying seasonal conditions, movements in wool prices and the relative profitability of other enterprises. In 1970, the sheep flock peaked at 180 million head. Today's sheep numbers are estimated at around 74.5 million.