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It was another week of prices moving in the wrong direction for winter. Early reports suggest big yardings at many of the major saleyards was met with erratic buying where once again, quality proved the sticking point for buyers.

Pens of new season lambs have begun appearing in smaller numbers in central NSW and in South Australia. These were sold at a range of $176 to $210/head at Forbes and $158/head at SA Livestock Exchange.

The market was weaker in all eastern states, while Western Australia made improvements. The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator lost 55¢ to end the week at 726¢/kg cwt. In WA the trade lamb indicator gained 63¢ to 591¢/kg cwt.

Merino lambs very quickly lost the interest that was present last week in NSW. The NSW Merino Lamb Indicator dropped 185¢ this week to end at 624¢, falling back in line with restocker lamb prices on a ¢/kg basis. The National heavy lamb indicator ended the week 39¢ lower, but is still sitting at a premium to trade lambs in ¢/kg cwt basis.

Demand for mutton sheep was generally weaker, with the National Mutton Indicator (NMI) shedding another 25¢ to 548¢/kg cwt. Although it came close in March this year, this is the first time since September 2020 that the weekly NMI has been under 550¢/kg cwt.

For the week ending the 15th of July east coast lamb yardings lifted 26% on the week prior driven by an addition 27,563 head in NSW. Sheep throughput also increased, but remained at the lower end of the range we would usually expect to see at this point in the season.

Lamb slaughter declined by almost 50,000 head compared to the week prior. There was a 6% lift in the number of sheep slaughtered but this in no way made up for the drop in lambs. Total kill figures were 6% below the five year sesaonal average and 12% lower than the same time last year.

The week ahead….

As covered by Angus Brown in this weeks analysis, the enduring supply of old season lambs this winter is causing prices to fall at a time when we’d usually see them rise. Where the market finds support will depend on how many are left and the timing of new season lambs.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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