Scanned-in-lamb ewes have been hot property for much of the year but that trend is beginning to show signs of slowing down.
Producers from Central West NSW have been the dominant buyers of SIL ewes, as well as ewes with lambs at foot, as their season turns around and they look to restock as quickly as possible.
A lot of this trade has been conducted online through AuctionsPlus and market analyst from the platform Michael McManus said demand had been consistently strong throughout the entire year, with clearance rates for SIL articles sitting between 60 and 90 per cent.
Mr McManus said there had been an extremely large volume of SIL stock offered on the box this year, so therefore the demand had been quite strong considering.
"Listings have been significantly higher than previous years with the numbers seen for 2020 already exceeding numbers seen for the 12 months of 2017, 2018 and 2019," he said.
"In March alone there was 124,625 head of joined ewes offered on the system."
He said Central West NSW had purchased 97,865 SIL head year to date, considerably ahead of the Riverina who secured the second largest amount of stock with 66,728.
Demand has also been present from northern Victoria.
Prices for SIL stock have held strong on the back of the strong demand, with joined ewes averaging $277 a head year to date, joined hoggets averaging $303 and joined lambs averaging $298.
Mr McManus said these prices were considerably higher than previous years, with all three categories up around $100 from last year's average price.
"Again we saw the peak of the market between April and June where after that prices have started to fall," he said.
When it came to ewes with lambs at foot, restocker demand surged at the start of the year after the eastern seaboard experienced widespread rain.
"In the first three months of the year almost the entire catalogue of ewes and lambs offered online found a buyer with the clearance [percentage] sitting in the high 90s," he said.
"Lately we have started to see clearance for the stock category decrease as the sheep and lamb market has started to come off due to the uncertainty of many external factors.
"Demand has also slowed down as the restocking surge we witnessed at the start of the year has started to reduce due to many areas getting back towards pre-drought numbers."
Central West NSW was busy buying ewes with lambs at foot, year to date securing 4902 units with August already seeing 1472 head purchased by the region.
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Mr McManus said in comparison to previous years, the current total of 34,247 head of ewes and lambs being offered through AuctionsPlus for the year was "fairly firm".
"This is mainly attributed to the national flock being at a 100-year low furthered by a large kill rate in the past few years, resulting in numbers staying consistent with previous years," he said.
"The strong market has also pushed many producers to sell when they normally would have retained to cash in on the rising market and therefore 2020 has seen higher listings than what was anticipated."
He said prices had been significantly stronger on previous years, with the average price for good quality ewes and lambs sitting at $311, up $60 on last year for the same period.
The highs of the market were experienced between April and July, with the average for the three months being $339.
"The record prices for 2020 was highlighted through a line of 150 non-station-mated Australian White ewes and lambs which sold for $516," he said.
"These ewes were 74 kilograms, 45-47 months of age and were from Gundagai, NSW."
KMWL livestock agent Brendan Mansbridge, Forbes, NSW, has been assisting his clients with buying and selling on AuctionsPlus and said demand had been so strong for SIL ewes because the return on investment was quicker for those looking to bounce back after drought.
Mr Mansbridge said the season had really turned around for Central West NSW and producers were eager to get more sheep on the ground.
"We've had a massive swing around from where we were six months ago," he said.
"Some places have had more than twice the amount of rain they had received all of last year and others have already exceeded their average rainfall for the year.
"With SIL ewes, you know what you're getting production-wise and it's not a huge amount of time until you've got a product on the ground."
He said he expected there to be a shortage of SIL ewes on the market from NSW producers but it was "amazing" how many there ended up being.
"Most have been from local areas or the north-west, and also some from the southern Riverina," he said.
"We've bought some sheep out of Victoria but not a lot."
He said the high prices for ewes hadn't phased buyers too much given the lamb market had been booming at the same time.
"You could justify spending a significant amount on ewes because lambs were making so much, but you've got to do your sums and make sure you can justify what you're buying, rather than just going with an open cheque book, prepared to pay anything," he said.
"As the lamb market has come off the boil in recent weeks, the value of ewes has come back a bit too."
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