Weakening saleyard lamb prices has led to some discussion around how many lambs are going direct and what sort of impact this is having on saleyard demand.
Obviously, not all the lambs which go through the yards are slaughtered, but comparing yardings to slaughter does give an indication of whether more lambs are being sold direct.
Over the long term, yardings are 51.5 per cent of the size of slaughter.
With plenty of lambs in saleyards going to restocker and feeder buyers, it's safe to say that over 50pc of the lambs slaughtered arrive directly from farm.
For 2019 to date, east coast lamb yardings have been 50.4pc of slaughter, so it is slightly lower than the long term average (Figure 1).
For the years 2013 to 2016, lamb yardings were much lower at 46.4pc, so in fact, more lambs are now being sold in yards.
Late in the year, lamb yardings rise as a proportion of slaughter (Figure 2).
The recent southern flush of finished lambs pushed yardings to 70pc of slaughter on the five year average.
Last year, supply to the yards was even stronger, hitting 80pc, which had a depressing impact on prices.
Strong prices also drive supply into the yards.
During winter, record prices pushed yardings to historically high levels of slaughter.
What does it mean?
Spring and summer usually see more lambs going through saleyards, and this shows up as a proportion of slaughter.
It seems that there hasn't been any noticeable shift away from saleyards, with the proportion of lambs sold going through saleyards actually rising in 2019.
Lamb producers are still flexible with how they sell their lambs, as shown in the winter, with more lambs going through yards.