SUMMARY OF FINDINGS LIVESTOCK
The number of milk cattle increased in 2008-09 by 3% to 2.6 million head, with the number of cows in milk and dry increasing by 2% to 1.7 million head. Tasmania had the largest percentage increase of all states in dairy cattle, up by 14% to 226 thousand head. Victoria remained the major dairy state, with herd numbers up 2% to 1.6 million head.
In 2008-09, meat cattle totalled 25.3 million head, representing an increase of 2% from 2007-08. Notable movements in meat cattle numbers were Western Australia with a 10% increase and in the Northern Territory recording an 18% decrease.
Sheep numbers decreased by 5% to 72.7 million in 2008-09, the lowest level since 1905. The largest decreases were reported in Western Australia (down by 1.9 million head) and Victoria (down by 1.7 million head).
Pig numbers continued to decline in 2008-09, dropping to the lowest herd size since 1979 at 2.3 milion head. This downward trend in pig numbers was driven by the main producing states of New South Wales (down 16%) and Queensland (down 2%).
The number of chickens for egg production fell in 2008-09 by 15% to 12.6 million, while meat chicken numbers increased by 12% to 82.8 million. All three major meat chicken producing states reported increased numbers, with Queensland (up 37%) reporting the largest rise. New South Wales continued to be the main producing state with 38% of the national total.