Market softer overall as wintry conditions take hold

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The wet, wintry conditions across most of the east coast is starting to partially impact the quality of sheep and lambs as they battle through the tougher conditions. Demand is still strong, especially for higher quality stock, but overall the market was generally softer this week.

Last week, east coast lamb slaughter dropped by 1% on the week prior with 358,384 head processed, while sheep slaughter fell by 20% to 71,987 head. (Figure 1) We can expect slaughter levels to remain on par or fall lower for the next two months, in line with the 5 year historical averages.

There was a big lift in east coast saleyard lamb throughput last week however, up 43% on the week prior, to 205,220 lambs yarded.  This is 30% higher than the same week last year and slightly above the 5 year average. Sheep yardings increased by even more last week, up 61% on the week prior, to 63,098 head. (Figure 1 & 2)

As reported by MLA, the quality of lambs was mixed this week which was reflected in the overall price indicators. The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator shed 16¢ on last week, to finish this week at 775¢/kg cwt. All other indicators fell in the east on last week bar mutton which stayed put and restocker lambs, which jumped up 32¢.

Looking at the national indicators there was red all round, with all indicators dropping between 5 to 50¢ on last week. Light lambs fell the most, although it wasn’t consistent across all states, in NSW they fell by 77¢ and 67¢ in Tasmania, while in Victoria & SA they lifted 21 & 31¢ respectively. Restocker lambs well sought after, especially in Victoria, with the indicator lifting 57¢ on last week to 808¢/kg cwt there.

The national mutton indicator fell by 22¢ to 626¢/kg, dragged down by SA & Victoria, falling 60 & 25¢ respectively while in NSW it lifted by 23¢. The national mutton indicator is currently sitting 27¢ down on the same week last year.

The week ahead….

With export demand still stronger than ever, we expect this will keep a solid floor in the market, even more reason for producers to take extra care of their stock as we can expect prices to remain historically high over the short term. 

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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