Buying back into sheep

Producers joining out of season to speed up flock rebuild.

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Producers in western NSW have been willing to pay that little bit extra for better quality genetics to retain as breeders.

Producers in western NSW have been willing to pay that little bit extra for better quality genetics to retain as breeders.

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Producers joining out of season to speed up flock rebuild.

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After more than four years of being forced to reduce stock due to devastating drought conditions, farmers in NSW are buying back into sheep.

According to livestock agents in western districts of NSW, producers who were stripped back to half and a third of their flock numbers are looking to rebuild, and are joining 'out of season' to speed up the process.

"People are thinking sheep again. The season is good, the grass is there, they're back breeding again," Dubbo's Nutrien Ag Solutions Merino specialist, Brad Wilson said.

"They were still joining through May and up until the end of June, both to Merinos and terminals, which is unheard of - they are desperately trying to build numbers."

Mr Wilson said they aren't thinking about when they are joining or when they are lambing, they just want to get a foetus.

"It's important to keep in mind we are talking about areas where a lot of these guys haven't been running sheep for a long time, a lot of people have accessed finance just to buy in more sheep," he said.

According to Mr Wilson there are two types of producers operating - those that stick to their normal breeding program and those who are creating opportunity.

"Some have joined their Merino ewes with a terminal ram, which will provide them with a bit of quick cash flow," he said

"Opportunistic buyers are buying sheep off AuctionsPlus, looking to join, scan and sell or join, scan and lamb down.

"Those choosing to lamb down, are also looking for sheep to keep their crops under control."

Off the back of a good season in many parts of the eastern states, crops have already come to head.

Mr Wilson said the crops at so so advanced there isn't enough stock to keep the forage crops under control.

From the west to the east, but still a long road ahead  

Since September last year, nearly one million sheep entered NSW from the Western and South Australia.

Nutrien Ag Solutions livestock agent, Nyngan, Richard Thomas.

Nutrien Ag Solutions livestock agent, Nyngan, Richard Thomas.

Nutrien Ag Solutions livestock agent, Nyngan, Richard Thomas, who purchased sheep in from both SA and WA for clients, said the big rush has finished, for now.

"This is purely because of the numbers in the west. They start lambing in July, so any of those scanned in lamb opportunities have been and gone now," Mr Thomas said.

"I had clients buying the scanned in lamb article, primarily in Merinos, to keep the ewe portion for breeding, but I also had clients purchase ewe lambs to join back to their own rams.

"People were willing to pay that little bit extra for better quality genetics to retain as breeders."

He said they had paid good money for a younger sheep to retain it and get value out of that article.

Although positivity surrounding sheep in the district is increasing, Mr Thomas said the region still has a long way to go.

"We finally got a season up here, the rain brought confidence, but we are still 'finance poor'," he said.

"We need a wheat harvest to really get money back into the district.

"We are a long way off being re-stocked and that is because it has been four to five years since a decent harvest in this area."

Coming into spring, Mr Thomas predicts those producers that have bought out of WA will offer some of those sheep as trade articles.

In particular, if they don't get any more rain in western NSW by the end of September, a lot of sheep will hit the market at the start of spring.

Looking forward, Mr Thomas said the situation has opened the door up to WA to other markets and opportunities.

"The opportunity has always been there, but because we haven't had to go there, we haven't explored it," he said.

"Within our company we have pulled together and used our network as much as we can.

"The opportunities we found within the company, utilising Western Australia, it has certainly opened my eyes up."

What does this mean for stud stock sales? 

Mr Wilson said the combination of good commercial prices and a more robust season should have a positive flow on effect on upcoming ram sales.

"From my experience, on the back of high commercial prices, ram sales should be pretty good, but next year's ram sales should be right up there price wise," Mr Wilson said.

"Stud prices tend to increase pretty well off the back of what the commercial prices have done the year before."

Whereas in WA, with a lack of water still the major problem, the outlook remains somewhat unknown.

WA Elders stud stock specialist, Nathan King, said a reasonable number of those ewes that went east were mated to terminal sires.

"Straight away that would make you wonder whether or not the demand for terminal rams will be as strong as it normally would," Mr King said.

"But because the wool market has come back, we are also wondering will some guys take some of their Merinos and join them to terminals to take advantage of the meat market."

"Ram sales don't start until September so by the end of July we might know a bit more."

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