Lambs in field

Lamb markets consolidated the gains over recent weeks to see prices improving for most categories. The Winter rally may be running out of steam, but news of the chance of a La Niña returning in spring is another boost of confidence for the outlook.

For the week ending the 9th of July, east coast lamb throughput increased 7% to see 177,228 lambs yarded. Both NSW and Victoria saw a lift at the yards while in WA 3,625 fewer lambs passed through compared to the week earlier. This was 27% higher than the five-year seasonal average. 72,399 sheep were yarded on the east coast which is 40% more than the five-year seasonal average.

Slaughter volumes were down last week. 7% fewer sheep and lambs were processed compared to the week prior. East coast lamb slaughter volumes were 13% higher than this time last year, but pretty close to the seasonal average. For sheep, last week’s volumes were 31% below average, but 35% higher than the same week in 2020.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator creeped 6ȼ higher over the week to settle at 885ȼ/kg cwt. A year on year comparison shows that this was 65ȼ higher than the same time last. In the West, the Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator (WATLI) gained 22ȼ to 788ȼ/kg cwt. This was 36ȼ higher than the same time last year.

Restocker lambs gained an extra 24ȼ to 896ȼ/kg cwt in Victoria, while there was less interest in NSW, where restocker lambs lost 17ȼ to 879ȼ/kg cwt and are sitting 67ȼ lower than the same time last year. There have been very few times in the last year where restocker lambs have been more expensive in the Victoria than in NSW, and it’s usually short lived. In South Australia they are trading lower again at 861ȼ/kg cwt.   

Heavy lamb prices continued to improve, gaining an additional 18ȼ to 873ȼ/kg cwt. Merino lambs received the wooden spoon this week, with the National Indicator losing 17ȼ to 775ȼ/kg cwt. Compared to the same time last year, Merino lambs are the poorest performers, sitting just 26ȼ higher. The mutton price rally has stalled, with the National Mutton Indicator falling 7ȼ this week.

The week ahead….

Have we hit the winter price peak? It does look like the rally is slowing, although supply has been relatively strong for winter in recent weeks so if we see numbers pull back significantly there may be a little more upside to be found.

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Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo

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