Which Country Has the Most Sheep?
Currently, there are around 1.176 billion sheep in the world. China makes the biggest contribution to this figure with the largest sheep population in the world.
High sheep production in China plays a major part in Asia producing 42% of the global sheep population. Africa makes the second largest contribution to sheep production at 31% followed by Europe at 11%, Oceania at 8.1%, and the Americas at 7%.
- China has the largest sheep population in the world 187 million sheep as of 2019.
- This figure equates to around 15% of the global population of 1.176 billion sheep.
- Australia has the third-largest sheep population at 74.722 million which is around 6.3% of the global population.
- New Zealand has one of the highest sheep to human ratios in the world with 5.1 sheep to every person.
Countries with the highest sheep population
Within the global areas mentioned above, certain countries make a major contribution. The figures vary from year to year, but China regularly tops the list. The country is leading the way with a surge in the lamb and sheep meat market. This has resulted in a sheep population in the country of 187 million as of 2019. This figure equates to around 15% of the global population.
After China, the countries with the next highest sheep populations are:
- India, 75.000 million population, 6.4% of the global population.
- Australia, 74.722 million population, 6.3% of the global population.
- Sudan, 52.000 million population, 4.4% of the global population.
- Iran, 48.750 million population, 4.1% of the global population.
The major reason for China being the main producer of sheep in the world is the amount of sheep consumption in the country. In 2018, people in China consumed 2.7 million tonnes of sheep and lamb meat. Overall, each person in China consumes around 3.2 kilos of sheep meat each year. This is the ninth-highest per capita consumption rate in the world.
The country that has the highest level of consumption is Kazakhstan with a rate of 8.2 kilograms per person. By comparison, the rate of consumption in Australia is 6.2 kilos: the second-highest rate in the world.
Australians are also the second biggest consumers of sheep meat overall with a figure of 250,000 tonnes. This is obviously far lower than the figure for China thanks to the Chinese population being a lot larger than that of Australia (1.402 billion compared to 25.69 million).
Countries with more sheep than people
Unlike countries with huge human populations, like China and India, there are several countries in the world that have more sheep than people. Australia falls into this group of countries with 3.3 sheep to every person.
Other countries in the list are:
- Mauritania – 1.8 sheep to every person.
- Iceland – 1.2 sheep to every person.
- reland – 1.1 sheep to every person.
- Namibia – 1.08 sheep to every person.
- Uruguay – 2.9 sheep to every person.
- Wales – 3 sheep to every person.
- Mongolia – 4.5 sheep to every person.
New Zealand has one of the highest sheep to human ratios in the world with 5.1 sheep to every person. However, this may not be the case in years to come as the sheep population in the country has fallen quite dramatically over the years, from just over 70 million in 1982 to 26 million in 2020. This fall is due to declining profits in sheep farming when compared to other sectors such as dairy.
Overall, even though annual figures fluctuate, it seems likely that China will continue to have the largest sheep population in the world thanks to the high amount of sheep meat consumption in the country.