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Rain on the plain sees lamb price gain

It has been a positive week for many livestock producers in the east. Widespread rain, full dams and a lower Australian dollar all combined to see markets jolted with confidence. While there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and some regions are knee-deep in it, the recent rain has seen prices lift and added a shine to the seasons production outlook.

This week’s supply figures will no doubt reflect the issues with transport, and soaked paddocks, but for the week ending the 19th of March, lamb yardings on the east coast lifted 5%. Victoria saw an extra 15K lambs sent to the yards, and over in the west an extra 4K compared to the week prior.

Processors also picked up the pace last week in the lead-up to the shorter weeks for the Easter public holidays.  East coast lamb slaughter lifted 11% and sheep slaughter 9%, but it wasn’t enough to reach average levels for this time of the year. Lamb slaughter was 6% below, and sheep 17% below the respective five-year averages.

All Eastern States bar South Australia drove the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) higher this week to land at 856¢/kg cwt. Despite the 48¢ lift, the indicator is 2% under the same time last year. The National Restocker Indicator was the only category to end the week lower, despite the best efforts of NSW. It ended the week down 28¢ to 898¢/kg cwt, but in perspective, the Restocker lamb indicator is still sitting 7% higher than the same time last year.

The National Heavy lamb indicator made the largest week-on-week move, rising 51¢ to 826¢/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were keenly sought after in both NSW and Vic. Over in the West, the market continues to plunge. The Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator (WATLI) dropped another 22¢ to see it back at 717¢/kg cwt.

Mutton prices rallied 45¢ in Victoria to 702¢/kg cwt. This helped drive the National Mutton Indicator up 24¢ to 664¢/kg cwt.

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The week ahead….

We have a few weeks of disrupted supply coming up, with the impact of the rain event and processor shutdowns for holidays. We typically see supply ramp up the week before Easter but soggy grounds are likely to hold some sheep in the paddock a little longer. With the Australian dollar below 0.76 US¢, export markets should receive added support while it lasts.

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Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo

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