A NSW Government website

Extensive Livestock

In NSW, livestock grazing occurs on approximately 41 million hectares which is around 78% of the total area of NSW. NSW is home to 20% of Australian cattle and 37% of Australian sheep, producing almost a third (32%) of Australian lamb and almost a quarter (22%) of Australian beef and veal. The livestock sector employs over 50,000 people directly in NSW. Livestock commodities produced in NSW are valued at over $5 billion.

Climate Vulnerability Assessments

For extensive livestock, the selected commodities included:

  • cattle (Bos taurus)
  • sheep (Merino)
  • high rainfall zone grazing systems (high stocking rate)
  • mixed cropping zone grazing systems (medium stocking rate)
  • rangeland grazing systems (low stocking rate)


The Climate Vulnerability Assessment modelled the historical and future climate suitability for each commodity across NSW. These assessments considered the change in suitability between the historical (1981-2010) and future time periods (2036-2065), reported separately for the two emissions scenarios.

Maps of historical and future climate suitability for livestock commodities were produced to demonstrate where in the state a commodity is likely to thrive or else be limited by future climatic conditions. The maps are not provided on these webpages but can be found in the Climate Vulnerability Assessment Summary Report. The factsheets below provide the results by discussing the important impacts and providing interpretation of the drivers of changed suitability.

Care should be taken when interpreting these results. The Climate Vulnerability Assessment is intended to highlight potential changes in future climate suitability at industry and regional levels. It should not be interpreted at the scale of individual holdings.

Due to the large number of outputs, not all results have been provided at this stage but will appear in individual commodity results reports. Commodity results reports will be released in 2024. Register your interest in receiving a copy by contacting vulnerability.assessment@dpi.nsw.gov.au.


Cattle factsheet

PDF, 392.75 KB

Sheep factsheet

PDF, 2904.11 KB


The Climate Vulnerability Assessment required a modelling approach that could be rapidly and consistently applied to different commodities and biosecurity risks to produce consistent and comparable models. To this end, a framework was developed which combined research literature, expert industry knowledge and climate data in a modelling approach known as ‘multi-criteria analysis’ (MCA model). The resulting MCA models were used to evaluate the suitability of NSW’s climate for chosen commodities and biosecurity risks

The general assumptions for extensive livestock MCA models were:

  • best practice management is undertaken,
  • the livestock or pastures are free of pests and diseases, and
  • dates of production phases are fixed.
  • for livestock:
    • a specific breed is selected,
    • adequate feed and water are available, and
    • specific joining and calving dates were selected and are not necessarily appropriate for all livestock operations in NSW;
  • for grazing systems:
    • Stocking rates were selected to be representative of the system. In this model, rangeland grazing systems use a 0.5 DSE/ha stocking rate, mixed cropping zone grazing systems use a 5.2 DSE/ha stocking rate and high rainfall zone grazing systems use a 19 DSE/ha stocking rate for sown pastures and 10 DSE/ha for stocking rate for native pastures.

For more information on the methodology and data used in the climate vulnerability assessments, please refer to either the methodology summary page or, for an in-depth explanation, the Climate Vulnerability Assessment Methodology Report.


ABS (2018)7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2017-18 7121.0 - Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2017-18. Australian Bureau of Statistics, accessed 9 October 2023.

MLA (2019) The red meat industry. Meat and Livestock Australia, accessed 9 October 2023.

MLA (2023) State of the industry report 2022: the Australian red meat and livestock industry, Meat and Livestock Australia, accessed 9 October 2023.

Contact us

For more information, please get in touch with vulnerability.assessment@dpi.nsw.gov.au