Higher yardings take shine of restocker lambs

sheep and lambs in yard

While the ESTLI and NMI both slid lower, the standout fall this week was restocker lamb prices and the main driver seems to be a solid increase in supply coming through this week.

he national sheep and lamb indicators all slid lower this week, with the higher value categories impacted the most. Light lamb prices lost 21¢(3%) to close at 787¢/kg cwt Restockers received the wooden spoon though, sacrificing 70¢(8%) to plummet down to 832¢.

The ESTLI and NMI both saw moderate falls on last week to around 2% each to respectively close at 780¢/kg cwt and 686¢/kg cwt.

Overall though, most of the indicators only gave back a good chunk of the gains made last week on the back of low yardings over Easter, coupled with what must have been solid demand that didn’t fade with the holidays. For example, this week’s restocker lamb yardings, at 12,322 eligible head were almost triple that of the preceding week, which only managed 4,546 head.

Last week’s east coast lamb slaughter figures crept up 2% to 284,044 head, while sheep slaughter numbers leapt 18% to 68,421 head.  Despite the impact of Easter holidays, and probably ongoing issues with COVID infections as we come into winter, slaughter numbers were only 10-15% off the pace set last year, suggesting that processors have tried their best to maintain production in the face of any challenges.  

Last week’s yardings data revealed a substantial week on week increase in supply of lambs, with east coast lamb yardings up 27% to 97K head, while sheep numbers lifted 4% to reach 28K head. Both figures are technically at half the volume that we saw at the same time last year, but the weeks aren’t directly comparable because Easter was much later this year.

All the extra supply last week emanated from NSW, which was up 23k head on the prior week.

The eligible yarding numbers for the national indicators provide a bit of a sneak peak at what the supply situation was this week. Not surprisingly, there were huge increases across the board, with heavy lamb numbers up 80%, restockers up 171% and trade lambs up 22%.

The week ahead….

This week saw price falls as a result of a solid return to the saleyards by both lamb and sheep. With the shorter weeks of Easter and Anzac Day behind us, there should be a more complete resumption of normalcy in the market going forward.

Stronger slaughter pace will help support prices, but any rush to market at the returned Bendigo and Dubbo sheep & lamb Monday sales next week could push local pricing lower as a result. It might be worth having a frank discussion with your stock agent about how high they expect yardings to get, and if a full contingent of buyers will attend at your local saleyard now the Easter break is done and dusted.

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Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo

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