New season lambs were keenly sought after this week in the east, while processor capacity issues dampened buyer activity in the west.

Despite another week of torrential rain in many parts of the country, new season lambs hitting the market were keenly sought by buyers. Prices lifted in NSW despite a surge in supply. In WA the extra lambs were not as enthusiastically sought after as in the east, as processor throughput and capacity issues dampen trading activity there according to MLA reports.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator lifted 5¢ on the week to finish at 772¢/kg cwt, 13% below the same time last year and 7¢ above the 5-year average. In WA, trade lamb prices took a dive, down 71¢ to 483¢/kg cwt , with reports from MLA that large volumes of new season lambs are placing downward pressure on prices. National Heavy lambs improved again this week, up 21¢ or by 3% on the week prior to 784¢/kg cwt, with all eastern states indicators lifting, whilst in WA Heavy lambs lost 54¢ and finished this week at 499¢/kg cwt.  

Light Lambs performed well, up 35 ¢ (+5%) to 725¢/kg cwt with higher quality new season lambs from NSW performing strongly averaging prices north of 800¢ and up 30¢ on the week prior despite the surge in supply. National restocker lambs shot up 54¢ to finish the week at 800¢/kg cwt, with NSW again performing well with an average price of 856¢/kg cwt.  The Merino lamb indicator fell on the back of a lower contribution, down by 45¢ to finish the week at 628¢/kg cwt.

Mutton had a poor week losing 32¢ down to 478¢/kg cwt as processor’s prioritised the surge in lambs, with the indicator now 18% behind the same week of last year.

The first week in October saw east coast lamb and sheep slaughter reaching a combined 420, 556  head, nearly 10,000 lower than the week prior and nearly 30K head less than the 5-year average. The biggest drop in slaughter came from sheep, down 8% on the week prior to 89,604 head processed, while lamb slaughter was stagnant at 330,952 lambs processed.   Lamb slaughter for last week was 21% higher than the same week last year.

Wet weather dampened saleyard throughput last week as lamb yardings fell 33% on the week prior, to 125,179 head on the east coast while sheep yardings stayed relatively steady only falling 4% to 51,926. 

The week ahead….

Floods in parts of south-eastern states will no doubt put a brake on yardings as producers prioritise welfare of their livestock and safety whilst mitigating flood damage. With strong buyer activity this week, and supply constrained, we might see some upwards pressure on lambs still to come.  

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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