Sheep far shot with the flock behind them

Well, not quite all, but there were plenty of lambs locked up in the paddock last week on account of the rain. More wet weather and a falling market aren’t enticing reasons to fill up trucks and send lambs to the yards. This was reflected in the supply figures and it was enough for the falling market to hit the brakes and see buyers chasing up the price.

A 39% drop in yardings on the east coast last week is unheard of for this time of year. This week’s analysis runs through the numbers in more detail (read here), but it’s an early sign that growers are happy to hold back.

Lamb slaughter was also lower for the week ending the 23rd of October, down 12% on the week prior and the five-year average. Some of this was made up for in an increase in sheep slaughter – up 23% on the week prior but still 37% below the five- year average.

All this talk of low supply provided enough support to the market to see decent gains across all categories of lamb and sheep.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) lifted 34¢ on the week to settle at 794¢/kg cwt. Again, a smidge higher than the same time last year. In the West trade lambs were also well sought after with the indicator rising 27¢ to 661¢/kg cwt.

Green was splashed right across the board in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. The gains were even across types on a cents per kilo basis too. All Eastern States lamb categories improved between 27 and 36¢ for the week. Restockers lambs in SA were the real mover, lifting 90¢ on the week to see the SA Restocker Indicator at an impressive 992¢/kg cwt. That’s nearly 140¢ higher than the price of restockers over the border in VIC.

Mutton also enjoyed the healthy market moves this week. The National Mutton Indicator gained another 17¢ to 619¢/kg cwt. The AUD falling 1.5% this week will no doubt keep export buyer activity humming if it stays around the 70¢ mark.

The week ahead….

It will be interesting to watch how the market plays out over the next few weeks as supply in Victoria ramps up. The last La Niña in 2010 saw prices track sideways in November, as growers could hold onto their lambs for longer and spread out the flow. The difference now being prices are nearly 50% higher.  

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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