Rain re-energises store lamb & sheep market


There’s nothing quite like a bit of rain to add some fuel to a market. Lambs heading back to the paddock and sheep attracted enthusiastic bidding this week after a good dose of rain in eastern NSW, Victoria, Tas, and WA.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) picked up 28¢ week on week, to sit at 681¢/kg cwt. This is 112¢ (-14%) below the same time last year. In the West, trade lambs also met stronger buying activity, and the indicator picked up 59¢ to 542¢/kg cwt, 141¢ lower than the same time last year.

Restocker lamb prices improved in all eastern states, but still have a long way to go before they recover from the decline that began at the end of February. The National Restocker Lamb Indicator lifted 42¢ this week to 572¢/kg cwt, down 281¢ (-33%) Year on Year.

Light lambs were steady on last week, while Merino lambs lost 25¢.  Heavy lambs edged higher, with saleyard reports indicating that mixed quality saw well-bred and well-fed lines improving while plainer types dragged.

Mutton continued its upward trajectory thanks to the widespread rain. Both NSW and Vic saw around a 25¢ lift in mutton prices and the National Mutton Indicator improved another 18¢ on the week to 344¢/kg cwt.

In good news, the stronger market was despite an increase in the supply of both lambs and sheep through the saleyards. Early reports for this week are already suggesting over 160,000 lambs yarded and 86000 sheep. This is an 11% lift in combined throughput across the country compared to the week prior.

For the week ending the 24th of March, lamb slaughter in the east was 3% below the same time last year. Sheep slaughter was 27% higher than at the same time last year in the east and continues to track well above five-year average levels.

The week ahead….

The rainfall forecast for the next few weeks is again very promising for those in the east, pointing to an early Autumn break. This might be enough to get prices moving higher again for sheep. However, two short weeks of sales and processing due to the Easter break will disrupt the normal balance.

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Data sources: MLA, BOM, Mecardo

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