Lambs in grassy paddock

There was a noticeable shift in buyer demand reported in eastern yards this week, with buyers becoming more selective as the days went on. This was most evident for heavy export market lambs, with prices quickly falling this week.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) lost 31¢ over the week to 697¢/kg cwt. After spending February in a downward slide, trade lambs in WA held relatively steady this week, dropping just 2¢ to 558¢/kg cwt.

Heavy lambs have really lost momentum since the start of March. The National Heavy Lamb Indicator fell 51¢ this week to 757¢/kg cwt, the lowest the indicator has been since October last year. This is just 9¢ under the same time last year.

Restocker lambs also breached new recent lows, shedding 70¢ over the week to 581¢/kg cwt. In NSW restocker lambs were down 118¢ at 548¢/kg cwt while in VIC restocker lambs are still selling within their recent trading range at 646¢/kg cwt, after dropping 20¢ this week. The National Light Lamb Indicator ended the week down 33¢ while Merino lambs were the only category to make a gain, up 21¢ to 638¢/kg cwt.

Mutton was cheaper in all states by the end of the week as the National Mutton Indicator fell 15¢ to 330¢/kg cwt.

For the week ending the 3rd of March 192,947 lambs were yarded nationally, a 25% jump on the week prior, driven mainly by a lift in throughput in NSW of over 30,000 head. East coast lamb yardings for that week were 17% higher than the five-year seasonal average. Early reports for this week suggest lamb supply was moderately lower this week.

Last week saw a big jump in mutton numbers and this week throughput was higher again. The early yardings figures are already reporting 128,772 sheep yarded across the country.

The week ahead….

Labour day in Victoria & the Adelaide Cup in SA on Monday will disrupt regular operating schedules next week in the south. Easter week is also quickly approaching which will limit available kill space.  While we would normally see finished lamb prices travel sideways at this time of year, last year the supply pattern sent prices lower until April.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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