YARRIAMBIACK and West Wimmera shires had the fourth and fifth highest fertility rates in the state last year.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its Births Australia 2012 report last week.
The statistics showed Yarriambiack Shire had a total fertility rate – births per woman – of 2.52 last year, while West Wimmera was at 2.47.
The bureau calculated rates for each year and then averaged them over the three-year period ending in the reference year.
Only Swan Hill, Loddon and Corangamite had higher rates last year.
Yarriambiack had 57 births last year, down from 73 in 2011 and 87 in 2003.
Mayor Kylie Zanker said the drop in birth rates could be attributed to a decrease in family sizes across the board.
“Families today generally are one or two children,’’ she said.
“The trend to have larger families has decreased.’’
Cr Zanker said she was pleased the shire had the fourth highest fertility rate.
She said it could be due to the healthy lifestyle the shire offered.
“We can now add higher fertility rates to the list of positives that are available in our vibrant municipality,’’ she said.
West Wimmera had 41 births last year, steady with its number of births in 2011.
Mayor Bruce Meyer said it was good news for the shire.
“It’s the fact that having children means there is a future for our kindergartens and schools and other businesses like that,’’ he said.
Cr Meyer said having young families in the shire also meant a future for sporting and other clubs.
He said the birth rate in Edenhope had increased and he expected similar statistics for Kaniva.
“I just hope the numbers increase – we certainly need young people here,’’ he said.
The bureau report shows West Wimmera’s births have remained mostly steady over the past 10 years – 43 births in 2003, 32 in 2005 and 51 in 2010.
But the shire’s population has dropped from 4707 in 2003 to 4217 in 2012.
Yarriambiack’s population has also fallen, from 7982 in 2003 to 7115 in 2012.
Northern Grampians had a total fertility rate of 2.02, Buloke 2.08, Horsham 2.12, Hindmarsh 2.25 and Ararat 2.32.
Hindmarsh births increased last year to 67.
Horsham births increased from 225 in 2003 to 259 last year.
Northern Grampians had 131 births last year, Ararat had 127 and Buloke had 54.