Sheep flock

A few missing buyers left competition lacking for finished stock in many eastern saleyards this week. The store market has also gone a bit quiet which has depressed prices in most states after last weeks’ bounce but Merino lambs came into their own.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) ended this week 7¢ lower than the week prior to 782¢/kg cwt. This is 104¢/kg below the same time last year. Nationally most types of lambs slid lower over the week, except for Merino lambs which were met with strong demand and lifted 19¢ to 732¢/kg cwt.

The South Australian market was the outlier this week, with all indicators improving. On a cents per kilo basis finished lamb prices at the saleyard in NSW and South Australia are at similar levels, while in Victoria Trade lambs are 30¢ lower and heavy lambs at around a 10¢ higher this week.

Mutton prices also slid lower this week, the National Mutton Indicator dropped 22¢ to 573¢/kg cwt. 

Last week we saw the market lift on tighter supply at saleyards. Lamb throughput for the week ending the 8th of July was 17% lower than the week prior and 11% below the average levels for this time in the season.  Sheep yardings were also well back with just 25,915 head yarded. The wet conditions in NSW was the major driver of low yardings last week.

Reports suggest that saleyard throughput picked up in NSW this week now that some parts have had a chance to dry out after the relentless rain. Supply clearly overpowered demand in NSW this week across most categories. However Merino lambs in NSW were the most expensive lambs in the country on a ¢/kg basis, with the indicator settling at 809¢/kg cwt after a 68¢ lift on the week prior.

Slaughter rates are still tracking at above average levels for this point in the year. Combined sheep and lamb slaughter of 393,248 head last week was 6% above the seasonal average. Lamb slaughter was 11% higher than the seasonal average. Victoria and South Australia appear to be the states driving the stronger slaughter rates.

The week ahead….

Quality remains an issue, so some sun on the sheep’s back will be welcomed by all. We aren’t too far off seeing some new season lambs from NSW and there are concerns that this may crossover with supply of the old season lambs still out there. Although processors are running at slightly higher levels than usual for winter it does pose a risk.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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