Nutrien Ag Solutions sheep farm.

The lamb market performance was varied this week, with a modest uptick in prices for some categories. New season lamb numbers are on the rise, and the increase in supply of restocker types was evident this week which added pressure. However, it’s the upcoming forecast that is of particular interest and could set the stage for a turn in sentiment.

Having spent the last few weeks trending lower, a stronger market in NSW saw the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) lift 12¢ to settle at 470¢/kg cwt. The Wagga Wagga market report noted that limited supply forced buyers to intensify their bidding for better-finished types.

In Ballarat where 20% of the light lamb supply came from this week, the quality of light store lambs improved, and prices averaged 414¢/kg cwt. The National Light Lamb Indicator gained 16¢ in total week on week to average 368¢/kg cwt. While light lambs are sitting almost 100¢ higher than the lows of September, Merino lambs are still testing close to the bottom. After a short-lived rally, the National Merino Lamb Indicator is now back at 256¢/kg cwt. This is around 30¢ higher than the September lows.

Recent rain hasn’t had the impact on restocker lamb prices that we were hoping for. The National Restocker Lamb Indicator lost 14¢ this week, driven by larger supply and lambs displaying a little more ‘dryness’. An additional 13,242 head of restocker lambs were yarded nationally compared to the week prior, with a large lift coming through Hamilton.

It’s encouraging to see slaughter rates at historically high levels. Last week eastern processors slaughtered 547,158 head in total. The last time we saw weekly slaughter at these levels this early on in spring was 2015. The weekly kill tallies were also tracked at historically elevated levels in WA, however last week almost halved compared to the week prior.

Next week

The east coast is due for a good drenching next week according to the latest forecasts. This should see the flow of stock to saleyards pull back in some regions and offer some upside. For the areas that had received October or early November rain, another dose is just what’s needed to boost confidence.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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