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The weather remains the biggest impact on all livestock markets this week, with widespread rainfall causing devastating flooding and all sorts of logistical nightmares for producers, saleyards and processors. Slaughter data wasn’t yet available for last week, making it difficult to show the actual impact on throughput thus far, however the lack of available data from processors probably does go someway to show they too are impacted by the weather.

What we do know is yardings for last week, which fell 2% week-on-week for lambs and 13% for sheep. While it is unusual to see yardings lower at this time of year, the fall wasn’t as much as might have been expected and kept levels above year ago numbers – 14% higher for lamb and 6% for sheep. And this was with centres such as Shepparton and Swan Hill not operating. Producers could have pushed turnoff forward with the expectation that they wouldn’t be able to get onto paddocks or feed would be submerged, and Meat and Livestock Australia is predicting that the main downward pressure on yardings is yet to come.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) continued to rise this week, up another 2.8% to 802c/kg. This is the first time the weekly average for the indicator has risen above 800c/kg since the end of autumn, and its sixth consecutive week-on-week rise. It’s now 7% above the five-year-average, but 6% below year-ago-levels. MLA reported young lamb yardings were 35% higher than old season lambs last week, with quality and weight helping to lift prices.

Restocker lamb prices lifted more than 65c/kg to 799c/kg, again the highest level since autumn, and within striking distance of the five-year-average. Heavy lambs also continued to lift, reaching 783c/kg, which is 4% higher then the five-year-average. Mutton was the primary indicator which headed south this week, no doubt with kill space remaining tight and restocking the last thing on many producers minds. It lost close to 5% to average 490c/kg, and now sits 20% lower year-on-year.

The week ahead….

We will continue to see markets impacted by the rain in the coming week, and as more data comes to hand be able to assess the longer term implications to the market in terms of throughput. That said, there is still forecasts for above average rainfall across the eastern states for the next fortnight, so we haven’t seen an end to the impacts of the weather this spring just yet.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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