Nutrien Ag Solutions sheep farm.

All bar one of the indicators finished the week lower than the previous week, as the market continues to find its new normal following the rollercoaster of 2023. Yardings were down week on week by 9% and the previous week slaughter numbers were slightly higher for sheep and flat for lambs.

Last weeks “biggest loser” became this weeks only winner, with the Merino Lamb Indicator the only indicator to see an increase on the previous week. The indicator rose 7% (36 c/kg) to 572 c/kg and is only 53c/kg off where it was a year ago. Very close to recovering from its gradual dive last year where it bottomed out at 220 c/kg in September. Lighter lambs dominated Merino throughput this week with 3.4k head weighing between 12-16kg.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) fell 3% (22 c/kg) this week, back below 700c/kg to 684c/kg. Yardings for the ESTLI were down the most on any indicator, dropping 19% (9k head) week on week.  Wagga had the largest contribution to the indicator, sales report talking of “dialled back” enthusiasm which caused the saleyard to average slightly below the indicator at a 25¢/kg reduction.

The National Mutton Indicator lost last week’s gain finishing the week at 282¢/kg down 10% from last week. Yardings were also down on last week, but still high at 102k head for the week. Wagga and Ballarat were the two largest contributors to the indicator, and both averaged above the indicator by 4% and 14% respectively. Ballarat finished its sale averaging 323¢/kg, with its saleyard report mentioning all buyers present and operating.

Preliminary yardings data show a decrease in both lamb and sheep yardings this week. Lambs fell 10% (25.4k head) and sheep were down 6% (9.4k head) compared to last week. Despite both falling, the total yardings for the week are 23% higher than the five-year seasonal average.

Last week sheep slaughter levels were up on the prior week by 5%, which is expected as the comparison week had the public holiday in it. Lamb slaughter was flat on the comparison week which indicates a slowdown in the most recent week of data. Slaughter levels for 2024 are still above the average, with last week’s total slaughter figure 17% above the five-year average. 

With the BOM not forecasting any significant rain across the nation for the week ahead, producers with tightening feed supply outlooks may decide to offload some stock. However, yardings and slaughter levels are softly tracking towards average levels after spending weeks above. Some saleyard reports have been talking to demand softening slightly, which if continued will see price further downside.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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