Sheep slaughter surge as sale numbers swell

Slaughter surge as store sheep numbers rise


Sheep
Merino young ewes made to a sale high, $232 a head, at the AFL Grand Final eve store sheep sale held at Swan Hill recently.

Merino young ewes made to a sale high, $232 a head, at the AFL Grand Final eve store sheep sale held at Swan Hill recently.

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PRICES for store sheep are withstanding the pressure of the spike in spring numbers.

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PRICES for store sheep are withstanding the pressure of the spike in spring numbers, as dry conditions force an early “exodus” of sheep from the Riverina district.

The ewe selling season has kicked-off with Hay recently yarding 37,000 ewes along with 15,500 wethers, while Deniliquin and Wagga Wagga yarded 26,000 and 30,000 respectively last month.

Elders livestock manager Ron Rutledge said majority of the surplus ewes had been sold out of the Riverina.

“There has been a massive exodus of wethers and store sheep, with a high portion going to processes and only a few back into paddocks,” Mr Rutledge said.

“By the end of October, most of the store sheep would have been cleaned up in the district.

“Hay is experiencing some of the driest conditions in 100 years – producers are experienced when it comes to adversity so we’re seeing survival strategies.​ 

“Prices have held firm considering the numbers that have been put through the system – demand from processors and interest from croppers has absorbed the extra offload.”

Last month, the eastern states sheep slaughter neared 470,000 head according to Meat and Livestock Australia which reported a 402c/kg Eastern states average price paid for mutton. This slaughter volume is estimated to be nearly 23 percent higher than September 2016.

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecast sheep prices to increase by six per cent to average 440 cents a kilogram in 2017–18 as graziers continue to retain breeding ewes to rebuild flocks.

The retention of breeding ewes has been aided by on-farm fodder stores in many regions and availability of low-priced grains for supplementary feeding.

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