Trade and Heavy lambs commanding demand

Sheep yarded

Limited availability of good trade lambs at saleyards led buyers into bidding battles, pushing the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) higher this week. Restocker activity also improved in Victoria, with competition forcing prices higher.

The ESTLI lifted 11¢ to 760¢/kg cwt this week, down 8% year on year. In the West, trade lambs ended the week at 658¢/kg cwt after a 24¢ gain week on week. Heavy Lamb prices softened over the week falling 7¢ to 813¢/kg cwt. Since early December heavy lamb prices had been on an upward trend so we may have found the ceiling this week.


The National Restocker Lamb indicator gained  13¢ to 667¢/kg cwt, despite a lift in numbers. Stronger competition for restocker lambs in Victoria offset weaker price movements in NSW and SA. However, SA restocker lambs are still at around a 70¢ price premium to those in their neighbour state to the east, due to tighter supply.


Saleyard reports in Victoria noted sheep numbers were well back this week with producers pulling back supply as a result of the cheaper prices. This helped push mutton prices in Victoria higher, while in NSW mutton ended the week around 30¢ lower. The National Mutton Indicator (NMI) held steady at 336¢/kg cwt over the week.


Early saleyard reports show strong lamb throughput numbers this week. Despite the short week with the Australia Day holiday, slaughter numbers remained strong at 293,098 lambs and 106,804 sheep in the east for the week ending the 27th of January. For the first four weeks of the year, MLA reported lamb and sheep slaughter was 37% higher than in the same period last year. 

The week ahead….

With the Australian Dollar rising from 0.68US¢ to 0.71US¢ over the month of January, our export lambs are more expensive now in USD terms than they were in the second half of 2022. This is likely to limit much more upside for finished export lambs, without a correction in the exchange rate. Even in USD terms, mutton is still looking very cheap for overseas buyers.

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Data sources: Meat & Livestock Australia; Mecardo

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