Widespread rain on the East Coast helped prices continue their upward trajectory, supported by a decrease in throughput as growers' feed supply concerns further eased. Competition heated up as the market adjusted to the rise in prices seen last week.

All categories across the sheep and lamb markets followed on from last week’s rises with double-digit price increases. Reports from major saleyards talk of strong turnouts from processors and buyers as well as increased competition all helping to support the upward price movement.  

Mutton saw the largest increase of the indicators, with the National Mutton Indicator (NMI) up 34% (53ȼ/kg) to 208ȼ/kg, surpassing the price rally in early October and to a level not seen since the end of winter. Restricted supply from the north was a key driver in the improvement. Wagga saw the largest yarding with close to 20% contribution to the indicator and an average price 20% above the indicator at 253ȼ/kg due to a bidding war between two parties.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) was up 7.5% to 529ȼ/kg with all weight ranges for the indicator climbing 30ȼ/kg or more. The heaviest lambs of the indicator fetched the highest prices with the 24.1kg – 26kg range averaging 551ȼ/kg. Hamilton saw the most throughput with 40% (just under 20,000hd) of the indicator volume going through their saleyards.

New season heavy lambs are in strong demand with the highest prices seen since the spring selling period commenced in August. Western districts new season lambs hit $196/head on Wednesday only to be beaten by Wagga which reached $205/head on Thursday. A strong result and something which should continue as recent weeks of rain will ensure there is feed around to keep the quality strong, and the capacity of processors remain high, bolstering demand.

Restocker lambs were up slightly this week (3%) following the significant (20%) rise from the previous week thanks to the favourable rainfalls changing the outlook for many farmers in the eastern states and encouragement from the forward pricing available for January and February. The indicator finished the week at 405ȼ/kg the highest price since the start of July. Restocker lamb yardings were down 11% week on week to just over 45,000 head. Ballarat had the highest yardings but averaged 18ȼ/kg below the national indicator. 

Next week

With plenty of water about (too much in pockets) and temperatures starting to rise with the beginning of Summer, some producers may look to cash in on the recent price increases this side of Christmas. However, many will now be confident in being able to meet their feed requirements over the summer months, which will ease some of the seasonal supply pressure.

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Data sources: MLA, BOM, Mecardo

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