Despite the extra supply of lamb and sheep, the market held its own and prices were slightly firmer across most categories. Lamb supply is tracking below last years levels due to the slow season, but it’s usually mid-December when numbers reach their peak.

East coast lamb yardings lifted 4% last week to see over 240,000 head yarded. A drop in lamb numbers in NSW was offset by a 12% week on week lift in Victoria. South Australia saw another week of just over 30,000 lambs yarded.

Sheep throughput also increased last week with 9% more sheep making it to east coast yards compared to the week prior. The total MLA reported sheep yardings in the last four weeks was 14% below the same period last year, while lamb numbers were 6% lower.

Lamb slaughter increased by just 1% week on week. Slaughter rates continue to track below seasonal average levels but last week did see more lambs processed than the same week in 2020. While not many sheep are heading to yards, they are heading to the abattoir. A 6% bump to sheep slaughter saw over 127,000 head processed last week. This was the largest week of sheep slaughter since February, and 51% higher than the same time last year.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator rose 3¢ over the week to 853¢/kg cwt. In the West, the Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator gained just 1¢ to 774¢/kg cwt. The market was again dearer in NSW, where tightening supply is pushing prices higher.

Heavy lambs gained 16¢ and restocker lambs lifted 5¢. In South Australia, the lamb market was slightly weaker this week, while in Victoria results were mixed. Light lambs are currently the most expensive in Victoria on a per kilo carcase weight basis, with the indicator at 909¢. This is 90¢ stronger than the same time last year.

Mutton made up last weeks loss by gaining just 2¢ over the week to 634¢/kg cwt. 

The week ahead….

The market appears comfortable with mutton at these prices. The extra sheep supplies over the last few weeks hasn’t yet made a dent in price. For lamb It’s usually the week ahead where we see yardings hit their peak. Buyers seemed happy to absorb what was on offer in the week just gone, so any additional throughput next week shouldn’t overwhelm.   

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Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo

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