sheep

With significant numbers of sheep and lamb being shifted off the farm, recent patches of rain and easing prices have seen some jump at restocker opportunities.

Eastern state’s trade lamb throughput was just under 64K head through the yards this week, a 13% week-on-week increase. This resulted in the indicator (ESTLI) declining 34¢ to 432¢/kg cwt, a 7% decline week on week.  In the West, the WA Trade Lamb Indicator dropped 23¢ to sit at 322¢/kg cwt on the back of a 71% uplift in supply after a fortnight of relatively low throughput.

Heavy lamb supply nationally was stable week on week at around 46K head, but throughput was 18% lower than the first week of August.  The easing of heavy lamb supply has not stemmed the impact of softening demand, as the national Heavy Lamb Indicator lost 20¢ to finish at 456¢/kg cwt.   

Restocker lambs had an interesting week on the East Coast, as NSW and Victoria had differing fortunes despite rainfall reaching around the Great Dividing Range in both states last week (See Figure 2).  In NSW, restocker spec lamb throughput increased 9% and the NSW indicator increased 64¢ to 294¢/kg cwt however in Victoria, buyers did not have the same confidence as the Victorian indicator for restocker lambs declined 45¢ to 285¢/kg cwt. 

The National Mutton Indicator (NMI) dropped under the 200¢ mark, falling 8% week on week to 188¢/kg cwt. This was driven by a lift in total sheep yardings, which increased 5% week on week based on initial NLRS reports.  The East and West Coast saleyards are swimming in Mutton, with weekly yardings nationally more than double the same week last year.  WA mutton yardings reached 9K head, the highest figure since March this year.  It was a 65% week-on-week increase and a 149% higher year-on-year.

Slaughter last week nationally remains elevated, as sheep slaughter was 36% higher year on year and lamb slaughter was 10% higher year on year.  With yardings again elevated this week, it is likely the processors will be busy again next week. 

Next week

Those who aren’t looking to take on more lambs back to the paddock will be hoping that processors can absorb what’s to come. Spring brings elevated supply and new season lamb numbers are only going to increase.

Mutton exports year to July are up 53% year on year, and we have sent over 51 000 tonnes swt to China (96% more than last year).  This trade relationship has been and will be a critical release valve for mutton supply and the continued easing of mutton prices will likely see prioritisation in this direction by processors in the next few weeks. 

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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