Sheep flock

Rainfall across Victoria and into south-eastern NSW over the last week offered a slight reprieve from the falling lamb market but did nothing to stop mutton prices. In fact, the National Mutton Indicator has fallen to a level that we haven’t seen since early 2014.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) pushed slightly higher, up 6¢ to 464¢/kg cwt. A 15¢ lift in trade lamb in NSW offset a weaker market in Vic and SA this week. In the West, a larger yarding of both lambs and sheep saw sellers walking into a cheaper market. The Western Australian Trade Lamb indicator lost 19¢ to 345¢/kg cwt. 

Heavy lambs also found some momentum, picking up an additional 11¢ on the week to 475¢/kg cwt. On the other end of the scale, light lamb prices have been more or less travelling sideways in August. In the east, light lambs gained 14¢ this week to 350¢/kg cwt ($63/head). Wagga produced the majority of light lambs this week and new season lambs sold from $58 to $90/head. In the West light lambs averaged 269¢/kg cwt ($50/head).

For mutton, it was bad news no matter what state you were in. The National Mutton Indicator dropped 44¢ (-18%) over the week to settle at 205¢/kg cwt ($54/head), the lowest we’ve seen it for almost a decade.

On the supply front, national lamb yardings fell 5% last week, and the early reports for this week are showing the downward trend continued. Sheep throughput lifted last week to see over 62,000 head yarded across the country, driven by a lift in numbers in both NSW and Vic. As for slaughter, well it remains elevated. Last week combined sheep and lamb slaughter in eastern states was close to levels that we last saw in 2014 for this point in the season.

Next week

We’d expect to see fewer sheep at the yards next week as producers protest values at $2/kg. The rain received in the south should help boost some markets, but we will need a lot more where that came from to really turn it around.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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