New season lambs attract more energetic buying

Sheep in a truck being transported

Saleyard supply slipped back this week which forced buyers to increase their bids and sent the lamb market higher. Presentation of good quality new season lambs has also attracted competition and helped spur on the improvement.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) lifted to 497¢/kg cwt, which was a 40¢ gain on the week prior. This is 21% or 85¢ higher than the recent low of 412¢ back in early September. In the West trade lambs lost some ground, falling 22¢ week on week to 360¢/kg cwt.

Processors appetite for heavy lambs has also been on a rising trend. In Victoria heavy lambs improved 37¢ on the week, while in NSW they were up 25¢. Heavy lambs in both these states are now averaging over 500¢/kg cwt.

Restocker lamb prices continue to improve. Particularly in Victoria where the season has been kind to many and there is more feed around. The Vic restocker indicator gained 29¢ on the week to 426¢. This is much improved from the low 284¢ reached not that long ago. In NSW the southern and northern divide in seasonal conditions is creating a mixed market for restocker lambs. In Wagga, which this week saw the largest throughput of restocker lambs, they fetched 460¢ on average. However, with restocker lambs priced much cheaper in other selling centres, the NSW indicator this week sat at 378¢ after gaining 20¢ over the week.

The positive momentum has also built for light lambs which this week were up 55¢ to 411¢/kg cwt nationally. Early yardings reports are showing lamb throughput nationally was around 24% lower this week compared to last. With about 164k head yarded, this level Is below both the same time last year and average levels.

Despite sheep throughput being well back on the week prior, there was little joy for those selling sheep with the National Mutton Indicator sliding back down another 10¢ to see it settle at 106¢/kg cwt. 

Next week

The trajectory of lamb prices over the last seven weeks has been mostly up, which is hopefully a sign that the market had overcorrected. At the lows of price that we have seen recently, southern restockers and traders may also be seeing the opportunity to be found from cheap buy prices. Supply will only increase from here which will test the improvement we’ve seen. 

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Data sources: MLA  Mecardo

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