Stocking up on lambs this Christmas

Nutrien Ag Solutions sheep farm.

The last week of reported sales for 2022 ended on a more positive note with a dearer trend present across most categories of lamb and sheep. While the market is well down on year-ago levels, buyers are seeing opportunity at current rates to make the most of abundant feed.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) lifted 20¢ over the week to 720¢/kg cwt. The ESTLI finished the year down 16% year-on-year. In the West the Trade Lamb Indicator lost 45¢, ending the year at 593¢.

Merino lambs were the only National indicator to end the week softer, losing 28¢ to 554¢. Heavy lambs were again reported as in short supply so buyers were pushed to increase there bidding and the National heavy lamb indicator gained 12¢ to 766¢. This is 12% lower year-on-year.

Restocker lamb prices increased in all eastern states with both SA and NSW seeing around a 55¢ jump week on week. The National restocker lamb indicator improved just 5¢ over the week to 678¢, dragged down by a weaker market in WA.  The restocker indicator is 25% below the same time last year.

Supply of mutton increased this week but so did price. The National Mutton Indicator found an extra 12¢ to settle at 372¢/kg cwt, which is down 38% year-on-year.

Early yardings reports show a lift in lamb throughput of nearly 50,000 head compared to last week. Lamb yardings continue to track below the same time last year.

For the week ending the 9th of December, 355,751 lambs were processed in the east, which is 2% more than the same week in 2021, but 3% below the five year average.

The week ahead….

The normal trend is to see trade lamb prices improve in January, however that wasn’t the case in 2021/22. This year again we have a lot of lambs still to come through the system in the new year which doesn’t give us much optimism for a quick price recovery. However with restocker lamb prices below five year average levels and a large spread to finished stock, this should support the store market.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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