WA sheep in yard

Yardings bounced back last week with mixed results across saleyards as patchy rain may have some producers questioning restocker intentions going into next season. On average, all the national indicators rose though bar mutton.

Slaughter numbers also rose last week with a 6% lift in lambs slaughtered on the week prior to just over 300,000 head, while we saw a 4% lift in sheep slaughter to 71,471 head. Both levels are still below the same time last year and at the bottom end of the 5-year range.

Lamb yardings last week were up 53% on the week prior to just under 150,000 lambs on east coast for the week ending 29th April. VIC saw the biggest increase in lambs to the market, up around 35,000 head on the week prior to around 62,000 head whilst NSW also saw nearly 20,000 extra lambs come the saleyards.  (figure 2)

There was an even bigger lift in sheep yardings, up 65% on the week prior to just under 50,000 head of sheep. Both sheep and lamb yardings, like slaughter numbers, were well below the same time last year (-15 & -23%) and the 5-year average. However, if covid disruptions to the processing work-force continue to ease, we may see more capacity open up and see less of a winter lull in numbers than usual – a ‘steadier’ supply of sheep and lambs might suit processors and keep some stability in the market.  (figure 2)

The market this week seems to have happily absorbed the extra lamb numbers however, with all the national indicators lifting on the week prior. Light lambs were the standout, having reversed some of the previous few weeks falls, up 38¢ to 797¢/kg cwt. Keep in mind this was not an even lift with big variations across the 3 biggest south-eastern sheep producing states, with the light lamb indicator rising by 64¢ on average in NSW, but falling in SA & VIC 103¢ & 39¢ respectively.

The extra sheep numbers coming to the yards may been too much though, with the national mutton indicator falling 18¢ to 568¢/kg cwt, albeit still tracking along slightly above the 5-year average.

The eastern states trade lamb indicator (ESTLI) gained 18¢ on last week to sit at 798¢/kg cwt, just over 100¢ lower than the same time last year. The WA trade lamb indicator meanwhile rose 88¢ to finish at 675¢/kg cwt. The aussie dollar strengthened to 0.711US cents keeping the ESTLI in US dollar terms, also just above the 5-year average. (figure 3)

The week ahead….

The RBA’s finally lifted it’s rates, the first time since 2010. Although some parts of the country are continuing to experience good rainfall, patchy rain in other parts may have some producers re-thinking their restocking intentions going into the next financial year, especially with the added pressure of the 1st of possibly more short-term interest rate rises.

Next week we should see some even bigger yardings figures, with the first full week in over a month we’ll get to know a bit more about where the market is headed.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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