Carmen-Lee Campbell - NSW - SHEEP

The latest ABS livestock data was released this week, showing that lamb slaughter for the June 2023 quarter has actually dropped compared to the January-March period, albeit marginally by 0.2%. It had increased, however, by more than half a million head in comparison to the same quarter last year. And unsurprisingly the September quarter historically is the largest in any given year, so it will no doubt increase in the current three months.

ABS Sheep slaughter, on the other hand, rose dramatically quarter-on-quarter for the three months to June, increasing by more than 36% to 3.2 million head. This was 47% higher than the same period in 2022. The latest weekly sheep slaughter had mutton throughput continuing to climb, up 22% week-on-week and a whopping 135% higher for the week year-on-year. Lamb slaughter last week dropped by 5%, but still remained 16% higher than the same time in 2022.

Price wise the restocker indicator lost nearly all the price increase it made last week, dropping nearly 54¢/kg to land back at 296¢/kg – very close to $3/kg lower year-on-year. All other indicator price movements were limited, either lifting or falling within 10¢/kg of the previous week. Both heavy and trade lambs lost ground, while mutton picked up about 5¢/kg. The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator is 460¢/kg, just 2¢/kg above the national price, and is being supported by slightly stronger returns at Victorian yards, as lamb throughput remains at just a fraction of what is being sent through NSW sites.

Which takes us to Wagga Wagga, NSW, which had a majority of the trade lamb categorised lambs yarded once again, and where old trade lambs lost $10/head and even new season lambs – of which were still very much in the minority – fell by up to $5/head. Heavy lambs, on the other hand, went the other way, picking up $5-$10. Forbes, NSW, had even less new season lambs, and reported a slightly dearer market for quality trade lambs, while third in throughput with about 4000 lambs was Hamilton, Vic, where prices averaged about 5¢/kg above the national average.

Next week

The ESTLI has lost nearly 90¢/kg since the start of this financial year, much more than is historically usual, with the five-year-average decreasing just 19¢/kg in that period, and the 10-year-average about 40¢/kg. Movement for the next six weeks for both averages is within about 20¢/kg, as the increase in new season lambs on the market is countered by the demand for the higher quality stock. There is a chance the uptick of suckers will at least stop prices from falling further, but we would have to see a substantial slowdown in old lambs first.

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Data sources: MLA,Mecardo

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