Penned lambs in Victoria

Despite a decrease in yardings week on week, the tightening of supply was not enough to support prices. Middle East airspace closures impacted demand at the yards as buyers waited for supply chains to reopen. Yardings and slaughter levels are still operating at above-average levels, as mixed farming producers begin to shift focus.

Last week saw a large jump in supply as producers looked to move numbers on as the calendar gets full over the next few weeks. Next week is a short selling week with a public holiday on Thursday to commemorate the ANZACs. This will see some major sales out of operation from now until May.    Mixed farming operations are also preparing (if not already underway) for the commencement of winter cropping programs.

The lamb and sheep markets continue to operate at elevated levels of supply when compared to the 5-year average. Despite total yardings for the week being back 21% week on week, this is still 33% above the 5-year average. The flush of lamb and sheep might be starting to slow down, however, as multiple saleyard reports mention drops in quality overall.  

Slaughter levels for the week prior are also well above the 5-year average. East Coast lamb slaughter for last week was 40% above the 5-year average and for the same week the year before.

According to MLA market reports light lamb prices fell due to the flow on consequences of recent attacks that forced closure to the airspace in the Middle East. Multiple carriers had to cancel and delay flights which has driven a decline in confidence and price for light lambs back home.

Exporters, that have been airfreighting lighter “bagged lambs” to the region, are in a holding position as they wait for more information on when the supply chain would reopen. The impact on the indicator was a drop of 16% (91 c/kg), yardings for the indicator also fell by 33% on the week prior as producers selling later in the week decided to hold, waiting for more information about the supply chain interruptions.

The National Mutton Indicator had the largest percentage decrease in price across the indicators this week falling 21% (58 c/kg) to 218 c/kg. Yardings also dropped by 15% (12k head) to a total of 68k head. Major contributing saleyard reports talk of not all buyers being active in the market.   

Next week

A short selling week with the national public holiday to commemorate ANZAC Day will see some major saleyards not operating.

The continued elevated levels of supply from the paddock have caused downward pressure on price for the indicators, the artificial tightening of supply as saleyards close over the next few weeks could lead to price increases. The news out of the Middle East will be watched closely as this market continues to be an important release valve for an elevated flock.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo, Reuters MLA,

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