The rebuild of Australia's national sheep flock continues to accelerate even with 7.6 million lambs being readied for spring markets.
A deep dive into breeding numbers around the country reveals the industry revival shows no signs of slowing even with the easing of sheepmeat prices.
Producers have just reported a total breeding flock of 42.5 million head, an increase of 500,000 ewes since last year, according to the June numbers recorded by Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation.
Sheep numbers have bounced back from the drought-induced bottom of 2020 when the national flock reached its lowest point on record with 64 million head.
Flock numbers are expected to hit 75.4 million head next year.
About 7.6 million lambs are expected to be sold this spring.
Most of them, or almost five million, are tipped to be sold in NSW and Victoria.
The three-year run of La Nina wetter seasons in the major sheep growing areas of eastern Australia is the obvious reason behind the resurgence.
Data for MLA and AWI's wool and sheepmeat survey collects industry livestock numbers and lamb production expectations three times a year.
Merinos accounted for 72 per cent of the total breeding ewe flock with 22 million lambs on hand reported by Australian producers.
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Merinos made up 55pc of the total lamb flock (12 million), followed by first cross and meat lambs (accounting for 19pc and 17pc of the national lamb flock respectively).
Most of those breeding ewes were spread across farms in Western Australia's great southern region (5.6m), Central West NSW (5m) and southeast NSW (4.8m).
The number of lambs were highest in Central West NSW (3.1m) followed by southern WA (about 2.7m).
MLA senior market information analyst Ripley Atkinson said stellar growing seasons prompted the desire to retain breeding ewes, particularly in the eastern states.
"Compared with the last survey in February, 27pc of producers surveyed said they would like to increase their ewe flock, while 60pc indicated they would like to retain current numbers," Mr Atkinson said.
"The majority of this growth is coming from eastern Victoria, northern NSW and southern Queensland where there have been very wet conditions.
"This demonstrates plenty of confidence in the market with room for growth moving into spring."
A total of 7.3 million lambs were marked in the past four months with Merinos almost half those.
First-cross breeds and meat lambs accounted for 28pc and 18pc respectively.
While 7.6 million ewes were joined to produce those marking rates in the past four months, nationally Merino marking rates were below that of non-merino breeds at 93pc and 101pc respectively.
Of the lambs expected to be sold in the next four months, Merino, first-cross breeds and pure meat are tipped to account for 36pc, 29pc and 23pc of lamb sales respectively.
NSW and Victoria are expected to account for 48pc and 18pc of total lamb sales over the next four months, followed by WA (13pc) and South Australia (12pc).
"With the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting strong seasonal conditions for the eastern states as the new season lambs hit the market, the signs are looking positive for the Australian sheepmeat industry," Mr Atkinson said.