Don’t let the green grass fool ewe

Volatile supply is the norm for livestock markets in April due to the public holidays and producers looking to the sky for the autumn break in their region. The early, widespread rains certainly kicked the market into gear, but in the week so far some of the price rally has been lost.

As American soul legend Wilson Pickett said “don’t let the green grass fool you”. Restockers have heeded these words and weren’t pulled into the rain driven price rally. A cautious approach appears to have taken hold, with trading opportunities limited, as Angus Brown analysed on Mecardo earlier in the week (view here). Looking at the Wednesday Indicator prices published by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), the Restocker lamb indicator in NSW was at 984¢ and 900¢ in Victoria, both lower than last weeks close. 

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator held most of last week’s gain, falling 9¢ to 841¢/kg cwt. The National Heavy Lamb Indicator at 808¢, is 17¢ lower than where it left off. The West Australian Trade Lamb Indicator, at 704¢/kg cwt on Wednesday, has also corrected from recent highs.

The big east coast rain event had the affect we all expected on yardings. 153,354 lambs were yarded on the east coast last week which was an 11% drop on the week prior and 7% under the five-year seasonal average. Sheep throughput also fell, down 24% on the week prior. MLA also reported on early yardings figures (Monday-Wednesday) for this week, showing just 121,566 lambs yarded in east coast yards, and 48,587 sheep.

There was no sign of disruptions in getting lamb to slaughter last week. In fact, lamb slaughter increased by 1% in the east, taking up some of the space created by fewer head of sheep processed (down 18% week on week). 

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The week ahead….

Another short week is in store next week due to Monday’s public holiday. With the seasonal fortunes shining on the east coast, autumn kill numbers are likely to stay tight and continue to support prices.

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Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo

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