Large lambs in pen on farm

Saleyard lamb supply has been trending lower than last year since early March, driven by the onset of rain, and falling prices. However, this week lambs were drawn out of the paddock and into the yards with the biggest week of lamb throughput we’ve seen year to date.

The balance of competition for available trade lambs remained steady in the east this week with little movement in price. In the West, trade lamb prices bounced 17¢, with indicator ending at 530¢/kg cwt this week. This puts trade lambs in the west at a 22% or 146¢ discount to the east.

Heavy lambs stabilised this week, with the National Heavy Lamb Indicator gaining just 4¢ over the week. At an average of 713¢/kg cwt, heavy lambs are priced 4% lower than they were at this time last year.

After rain reignited the restocker lamb market in mid-March, the National Restocker Lamb Indicator rallied 24% or 121¢ over a month. In the last week, prices have cooled off again, losing 42¢ to settle at 578¢/kg cwt. A lift in the supply of restocker lambs would appear to be the driver, with early reports showing a lift in restocker lamb throughput this week compared to last. Volumes are still far from the levels of March. This week the Light lamb indicator lost 15¢ to 577¢/kg cwt.

Mutton prices continue to be driven higher by tighter supply. While the saleyard throughput of mutton did lift week on week, it remains below the peaks of March. The National Mutton Indicator ended this week 23¢ higher, at 428¢/kg cwt. This was largely driven by a rally in Victoria, where mutton prices soared 93¢ over the week to 465¢/kg cwt. This pushed Victorian mutton prices to a 30¢ premium over NSW.

Early reports are showing that over 233K lambs were yarded this week; a big jump on the 142K of the 4-day week prior. The last time we saw saleyard lamb throughput this high was back in December. Nationally over 116K sheep were yarded this week, which was 54K more than the week prior. To see the price continue to improve, despite more stock available for purchase is a positive sign.

The week ahead….

We will be back to another disrupted sales week, due to the nationwide public holiday. Price improvements for mutton may draw out some sheep to the yards in the week ahead and if this week is anything to go off, there are plenty of lambs to come.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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