AuctionsPlus sheep and lamb numbers drop after three week surge

Surge in sheep numbers ends as numbers drop by nearly 20 per cent on AuctionsPlus

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After a three week surge, sheep and lamb offerings drop on AuctionsPlus.

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After a three week surge in commercial sheep and lamb offerings on AuctionsPlus, numbers have decreased by 19 per cent this week, with a total of 97,981 head listed online.

According to the weekly report, this week's reduced offering had buyers in a combative mode, especially for the joined ewe categories.

Central West NSW remained the top purchasing region for the week, securing 18,890 head - with 26 per cent of purchases consisting of Merino wethers and wether lambs.

The NSW Riverina and Southwest Slopes and Plains also secured considerable numbers this week, purchasing 14,166 and 9,310 head, respectively.

A total of 57,235 new season lambs were offered with four of the six categories averaging higher.

First-cross ewe lambs saw a rise in listings with 8538 head - with the category returning a $50 per head rise, to average $309 per head.

Crossbred lamb numbers decreased to 18,714 head, but demand remained robust - registering an 89pc clearance rate and averaging $1 higher at $162/head.

But it was the Merino wether lamb category which saw a large reduction in numbers, decreasing by 60pc from last week, to 19,143 head.

NSW offered 13,785 head for the category - 24,238 head less than the previous week.

However, even with the sharp contraction and 97pc clearance rate, Merino wether lambs averaged $2 cheaper at $144/head.

Yet NSM Merino Merino ewe hoggets registered a large jump in supplies this week, at 21,024 head and both price and clearance levels for the category also increased with an 87pc clearance and averaging $22 higher, at $282/head.

A line of 350 NSM Merino ewe hoggets from Coonalpyn SA, weighing 59.2kg liveweight, returned $350/head.

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According to chief market analyst at AuctionsPlus Tim McRae, the recent surge in numbers has been larger and earlier than in previous years.

"For the commercial lamb and sheep sales, offerings for the past three weeks have totalled just over 295,000 head - which is 38pc greater than the same period in 2020 and 10pc higher than the drought induced sell-off in 2019," Mr McRae said.

"The increase in AuctionsPlus sheep and lamb numbers also aligns with numbers through MLA's NLRS reported saleyards.

"For the past three weeks, MLA's national lamb and sheep yarding are up 24pc on 2020 and 2pc from 2019."

Interestingly, with the higher supplies offered in recent weeks, lamb prices continue to be well above previous levels during the first week of September - up 21-47pc year-on-year and 28-39pc higher than the average for the past five years.

Anecdotal reports indicate that many producers in 2021 have decided to sell lambs which have only known wet conditions earlier than in previous years - lured predominately by the record high prices on offer.

Mr McRae said current high lamb prices could well be the tonic required to flush lambs into the market - which, he said, is being met by voracious buyers anxious to make the most of the excellent spring in the offer.

"A potential run of dry weeks through September will provide a challenging test to the robust lamb market, with any contraction in supplies likely to underpin prices, while expectations will be largely met if large new season supplies continue to flow," he said.

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