Sheep numbers lowest since 1924

The severe impact of the drought on Australian farms has been confirmed by the 2006-07 agricultural figures, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The report shows that sheep and lamb numbers dropped to their lowest level in over 80 years.

Major crops fell to less than half the previous year’s production.

However, less severe conditions reported in some northern regions saw meat cattle numbers hold steady overall, despite drops in other regions.


Sheep and lamb numbers for 2006-07 fell to 85.7 million head, the lowest since 1924.

Meat cattle showed little change at 25.4 million head.

Milk cattle fell by 4pc, to 2.7 million head due to continued dry conditions.

Pigs fell by 5pc, to 2.6 million head, with producers reporting increased feed costs as a factor.


Wheat production for 2006-07 fell by 57pc, to 10.8 million tonnes, with drought in many areas.

This followed near-record levels the previous year.

Barley production fell by 55pc, to 4.3 million tonnes, with drought in many areas.

Cotton fell by half, to 282,000 tonnes, the smallest crop recorded since 1988 and smallest area planted since 1987.

Growers reported a lack of water and unfavourable growing conditions.

Rice production fell by 84pc, to 163,000 tonnes, with growers reporting a lack of water for irrigation as the reason for this decline.


Tomato production fell by 34pc, to 296,000 tonnes, again due to lack of water.

Orange production fell by 7pc, to 471,000 tonnes, with dry conditions reported in the major growing areas in NSW and Victoria.

Banana production increased by 14pc, to 213,000 tonnes, as the industry recovered from the effects of Cyclone Larry in early 2006.

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