Restocker demand has blown up the market for scanned-in-lamb ewes this year and some producers have been able to take advantage of these favourable prices.
KMWL livestock agent Brendan Mansbridge, Forbes, NSW, has been assisting clients with the buying and selling of SIL ewes this year through physical saleyards and AuctionsPlus.
Mr Mansbridge said anyone in a position to sell SIL ewes had done so, with some even making operational changes in order to sell the product in most demand.
"Because there's been such good demand for SIL ewes, some people have joined their older ewes and scanned them and people are buying them to get one more lamb out of them before selling them into the mutton market," he said.
"We've seen six and seven and up to eight-year-olds offered for sale as SIL ewes as producers look to take advantage of the market and make a good return from a product that would normally go into the mutton market."
He said some had even decided to hold onto their ewe lambs and instead join and scan them to sell them as SIL ewes.
He said it took incredible insight for producers to make this call and have it pay off.
"Back in February and March when we started to get some rain [in Central West NSW], some of our clients that breed first-cross lambs and market them every year could see that there was going to be good demand for SIL ewes so they joined them instead," he said.
"The market went the right way for them and it was indicative of the price difference between lambs and SIL ewes."
Craig Eberly is one of Mr Mansbridge's clients who had taken advantage of newly-grown feed on his Bedgerabong, NSW, property.
Mr Eberly, who runs the farm with his brother Shawn, was looking to sell around 150 August 2019-drop lambs in February this year, but upon looking at the market, decided otherwise.
"It was dry and we were looking at selling them but we figured we'd hold onto them and sell them as SIL," he said.
"It started raining and we had free feed so it ended up being a good decision."
In July this year, they sold the 147 SIL ewes for $362.
Mr Eberly said he imagined if he had have sold them as lambs in February, he would have made $160-$180.
"When you look at $362 versus $180, that's more than double," he said.
"And you wouldn't have been able to get that much feed into them in the amount of time it took."
This was the first time the Eberly family had joined ewe lambs and they were incredibly pleased with the result.
"We'd definitely do it again depending on the market and season," he said.
"If it had have started to dry up, we might have just sold them."
He said it was important to pay attention and be reactive to the conditions you were operating in.
"If ewe prices were coming down and maybe lamb prices stayed the same, you might reconsider," he said.
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