Nothing quite like an October rain

Rain Farm

Rain was exactly what the market needed and despite the glaring El Nino signs, a front moving across the southeast delivered the good stuff. While the headwinds facing the market remain, we will welcome any price bounce with open arms.

Figure 1 shows where the rain fell, and although it could be considered too much in parts of Victoria, NSW saw fairly widespread falls in areas that were desperate for a drink. Producers held off sending stock to yards this week in anticipation of the event, particularly in NSW, with throughput declining significantly week on week. The preliminary yardings reports are showing total lamb yardings of around 120K head and sheep yardings at 48k head currently, contrasting last week’s 202k lambs and 66k sheep.

In response to the tighter supply and a bit more confidence saleyard prices jumped. The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator gained 52¢ or 12% over the week, to 483¢/kg cwt taking the indicator back to levels of early August. Saleyard reports from Wagga noted bidding was ignited for anything carrying weight. Heavy lambs also improved, up 41¢ on the week to 495¢/kg cwt. It was lighter lambs that saw the biggest gain, mind you they had also experienced the biggest falls. Light lambs jumped 114¢ or 42% to settle at 385¢/kg cwt and Merino lambs lifted 118¢/kg cwt or 45% to 352¢/kg cwt. The biggest price improvements were in NSW, where light & Merino lambs are now priced back at levels of mid to late July.

Restocker lamb prices also jumped in NSW, up 130¢ on the week to 379¢, which moved the price more in line with Victoria where a more tepid 41¢ gain saw restocker lambs at 378¢. SA largely missed out on the rain event and prices there continued lower with restocker lambs down 71¢ on the week to 214¢/kg cwt.

Mutton prices also improved along with the broader lamb market. The National Mutton Indicator jumped 64¢ or 60% over the week to end at 171¢/kg cwt.

Next week

The market is likely to bounce around over the next few weeks before it rebalances. Supply will continue to ramp up, but there will likely be some producers now with more confidence in feed supply that decide to hold onto lambs longer.

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Data sources: MLA, BOM, Mecardo

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