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Processors were kept busy last week with the full work week, as East Coast lamb slaughter reached 377k head , the highest number since May 2019. In the short week that followed, the market has seen an overall dip in prices with mutton inching ahead but restocker lamb demand nosediving.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) fell 18¢ to finish at $650¢/kg cwt, a decline of 2.7%. On the West coast, trade lambs followed suit, with the Western Australia Trade Lamb Indicator (WATLI) losing 12¢ to finish at 518 ¢/kg cwt.  Western trade lamb discount closing the gap slightly to a 132¢ discount to the east.

Heavy lambs were down slightly, with the National Heavy Lamb indicator tracking lower at 689¢/kg cwt.

The mid-March rally in the restocker market looks to be a short-term one, as restocker lambs have lost ground for a 2nd straight week. Eastern State restocker lambs are down 15% week on week to 520¢/kg cwt, a decline of 92¢.  Out West, the WA restocker lamb indicator is down 78¢ to 288¢/kg cwt.

Mutton prices continue their climb from the lows of quarter 1 2023. The National Mutton Indicator (NMI) rose another 2% to finish the week at 436 ¢/kg.  With a 90¢ improvement in the last month welcome news, mutton is currently down 26% year on year.  Angus Brown took a deeper dive into the Mutton Recovery this week on Mecardo. Where the climb for mutton will finish in the short term will depend heavily on the movement of lamb prices, with more upside likely if the lamb price can follow suit.

The short week was always going to impact yardings, with early reports seeing an 80k decrease in throughput on the east coast this week for lambs, and 27k fewer east coast sheep yarded this week.  

The week ahead….

As the market look to return to trading as usual, and we move past the “big dipper” April supply and demand dynamic, the impact of the relative increase in the supply of sheep heading to the yards as we progress through a forecasted “drier” winter will reveal itself.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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