Article Summary: What would you do in a situation where you have more sheep than you know? Following years of drought and subsequent heavy rainfall, sheep numbers have soared, surpassing the human population and causing a significant drop in mutton prices. The situation poses economic challenges for farmers, who need help managing the surplus and preventing overgrazing. The article suggests solutions like diversification of livestock, strategic breeding, collaborative farming, and leveraging agritech for better herd management and resource allocation.

Sheep are an important part of Australia; a popular food source, heavily farmed, main export product and economic component. But did you know their population is many times greater than its people? Sheep in Australia are becoming overabundant, and it’s causing a glut of meat, uncontrollable herds and low prices, all of which is affecting you.

Australian farmers are now beginning to give away their sheep for free. Concerns about the impending dry summer, and fears this will leave pastures without grass for the sheep to eat. 

Why is this happening?

After nearly three years of persistent rainfall along the eastern coast, the pastures in this region flourished and became inundated with crops, prompting farmers to enthusiastically rebuild their herds; a common farming reaction to these events. A prior severe drought had dramatically reduced the farm animal population. This sudden abundance of food has then led to a rapid surge in sheep production across Australia.

Why are low prices a reason?

This surge in sheep has caused a sharp decline in mutton prices. Within a year, mutton prices in Australia have plummeted by 70%, with 1 kg of mutton now selling at a mere $1.23. The sheep population has reached its highest point since 2007, totalling a staggering 78.75 million—surpassing the actual human population of Australia.

As the top producer and exporter of mutton globally, Australia now faces a formidable economic challenge due to plunging global wholesale meat rates. While this might not immediately impact grocery shoppers, its repercussions are felt by the government and, undoubtedly, by you as well. Several supermarket chains in Australia have announced a 20% reduction in lamb product prices.

Despite a significant export of sheep from Australia in October, a considerable number remains unsold. Predictions from lamb production houses in Australia foresee further declines in rates down the line.

How is drought a factor?

The persistent drought took its toll, creating water scarcity and a shortage of quality grazing areas that strained the farming community. When nature throws such challenges, managing a healthy herd becomes quite demanding. However, once the drought gave way, three years of heavy rainfall followed.

Recognising the opportunity in the improved post-drought conditions, farmers have taken proactive steps to rebuild their herds. With better food availability and improved grazing conditions, the remaining sheep thrived, exhibiting increased fertility and successful breeding. This, coupled with a determined effort to recover from drought losses, has spurred a substantial increase in sheep numbers.

It's important to note that the upsurge in sheep numbers isn't directly attributed to the drought but rather to the improved conditions that typically follow such dry periods.

What are the other factors that affected the increased lamb population in Australia?

There could be other factors, apart from the influence of drought conditions, that might've contributed to increased lamb production in Australia:

  • The rise in the demand and favourable market rates of mutton may have encouraged increased sheep production. 

  • More attention is paid to breeding strategies for other types of livestock. 

  • The diverse Australian climate can impact lambing rates in different parts of the nation. 

  • The international demands and pressures for Australian lamb production could be another possibility for increased sheep numbers.

What can farmers do?

If you think that time and opportunity to control this problem are now out of your hands, don’t be dissuaded. Here are some measures that you can take to control the situation. 


You might want to consider diversifying your livestock portfolio. For example, introducing a variety of in-demand animals could help balance the farm economy.

Strategic breeding: 

You should strive to be as precise and selective in breeding practices as possible. Concentrating on quality rather than quantity can help you create and run a more manageable and profitable herd.


Teamwork, discussions, and collective decisions are rock-solid in any situation. Consider joint ventures or collaborative efforts with other farmers in your network. Like anything in life, it can help share the load, and provide you with support, knowledge and resources, making it easier to navigate difficult times.

How can agritech help?

Thankfully, implementing tracking and monitoring tools can help you turn this problem around or at least give you a greater awareness of what’s happening to your sheep numbers. In general, agtech can help you deal with the unpredictability of farming in the modern era of geopolitical uncertainty, supply chain disruptions and extreme weather events, for example. 

Here are some ways agtech innovations can help you if you are faced with a sheep surplus:

  • If you notice that a particular area is becoming overgrazed, you can use an app to identify the animals in question and adjust their grazing patterns accordingly.

  • You can strategically rotate grazing areas to prevent the overuse of specific sections. This will promote healthier pasture growth by understanding where and when animals graze frequently.

  • You can consider relocating water sources if data shows that a group of animals consistently avoids a specific watering point.

  • You can track your herds' health by using health monitoring apps. A sudden decrease in activity could indicate illness, enabling you to quickly identify and isolate the affected animal in order to receive timely veterinary care.

  • AI-based agtech apps may even help you as your very own virtual farm consultant, where you can chat with your app and ask it for instant advice and suggestions/. Pretty amazing, huh?

Did you know can help you with these farming efforts?

It’s what we do; making your farming life easier, smarter and more productive. To find out more, head here and get in touch with our team of farming consultants to understand how you can do all of the above with one easy-to-use, fully supported app!

Our farmers face a challenge in Australian agriculture's vast and unpredictable landscape.

There’s good news. This problem can be solved despite these challenges requiring collective attention and creative solutions. We can turn this sheep surplus into an opportunity for sustainable farming practices by addressing the root causes, experimenting with new strategies, and embracing technology.

Until we meet again, Happy Farming!

- The Dedicated Team of, 2024-01-02