The 10th week of the year saw some small mixed movements in lamb indicators this week. A large decrease in mutton supply was not enough to sandbag the price fall for mutton. Yardings were down slightly for lambs and significantly in sheep, but slaughter volumes remained at above-average levels.

The National Mutton Indicator fell by 21% (59 c/kg) for the week, closing at 222 c/kg. Yardings for the indicator were significantly down on the previous week by 46% (62k head). Despite the large decrease in supply, it was not enough to keep demand steady and prices supported. MLA saleyard reports from major contributors of the indicator talk of not having a full operating buyer presence at the rail. Hamilton saw a 91% decrease in yardings for mutton with producers choosing to wait following the price decline earlier in the week at other saleyards.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) was flat week on week, falling 3 c/kg to 615 c/kg. Yardings for the indicator fell by 4% for the week with 38k head sold. Ballarat had the highest contribution to the indicator, with 20% of the total yardings. It averaged 4 c/kg above the indicator and spoke of a “very erratic market” despite most of the usual buying group in attendance and operating.

Light Lambs were able to buck the trend of the market and make some modest gains, the indicator finishing the week up 4% (21 c/kg) to 549 c/kg. Yardings for light lambs were flat week on week, with the price rise being driven by increased competition from restockers and feedlots. 

Initial data from the MLA show that total combined lamb and sheep yardings were down for the week, falling by 26% (85k head) compared to the week prior. Sheep yardings were down by 46% (62k head) following the erratic trend that has been occurring in the category for the last few months with large fluctuations week on week. Lambs were more stable but still fell by 12% (23k head). The supply surge seen in the past few months appears to be losing momentum. Compared to the five-year seasonal average, total yardings this week were down 16%.

Slaughter levels for the week prior were flat, but still well above the midterm average. Compared to the week before there was a slight shift in the mix between lamb and sheep, Sheep increased by 11% (17k head) and lambs decreased by 4% (18k Head). Slaughter levels for the year are averaging 26% above the five-year average. 

Next week

A shorter working week with public holidays on Monday for Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT will see some disruption to sales and processing. Tighter throughput may have a positive impact on price as buyers look to fill their orders with limited supply.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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