Supply drives seesaw movement in prices

Saleyard numbers dictating prices

BUYING: Ben, James, 11, and Catherine Cruikshank, Merryvale, Ganmain, NSW, purchased 330 Merino ewes for $265 at Hay, NSW, last week.

BUYING: Ben, James, 11, and Catherine Cruikshank, Merryvale, Ganmain, NSW, purchased 330 Merino ewes for $265 at Hay, NSW, last week.


From bigger numbers to tightened supply, saleyard throughput is dictating prices, albeit still well above last year's levels.


Bigger numbers of young lambs found their way to Victorian saleyards last week forcing weaker prices, but in a turn-around, early trading this week saw a tightened supply offered at all major selling centres.

Last week the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) dropped 17 cents to finish at 928c per kilogram carcase weight (cwt).

The market was also weaker in the west with the Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator (WATLAI) dropping 16c to 739/kg cwt.

And mutton continued to fall, with the National Mutton Indicator dropping another 7c to 608c/kg cwt.

This week heavy sheep fell below 600c making from $166 to $222 averaging 537c to 598c/kg cwt.

But lamb prices made a comeback this week with averages for both trade and heavy export lambs continuing to hover at the benchmark rate of around 1000c/kg cwt.

This is keeping averages above $250 for good sucker lambs weighing above 23-24kg.

Almost 18,000 lambs were yarded at Bendigo, down 2000 head, and the NSW markets of Corowa and Dubbo yarded reduced supplies of 8500 and 20,600 respectively.

Meat and Livestock Australia's market information manager Stephen Bignell said current lower lamb supply at this time of the year is not unusual.

"In the previous two years, national lamb yardings have fallen before recovering in line with traditional spring flush expectations," Mr Bignell said.

"Since June, national average weekly yardings are operating 22 per cent stronger than 2020 levels and 5pc stronger than 2019 levels.

"This equates to 38,000 and 9000 head more compared to 2020 and 2019 in average terms.

"Although slides in supply in recent weeks could be considered unusual relative to the strength of the winter yarding period where volumes were very strong, current supply lulls were also experienced in the previous two years."


Lamb prices lift across most categories despite increase in offerings

Lamb prices in good position stepping into spring flush

Anecdotal reports surfaced this week of southern new season lambs starting to move into saleyards with Ballarat lamb numbers increasing slightly.

But unlike the normal trend of prices dropping when new season lambs hit the market, bidding at saleyards continues to have force and have experienced little price change.

New season lambs at Wagga Wagga last Thursday set another new Australian record of $340 for a pen of sucker lambs estimated to weigh 33kg cwt.

And a pen of 310 old super-sized lambs recorded a top price of $370.

At the close of selling Monday the national price average for heavy lambs was 953c/kg cwt, and trade weights at 915c/kg cwt.

Year-on-year trade weight national average prices are 204c/kg higher while heavy lambs are tracking 270c/kg up on this time last year.

According to the National Livestock Service (NLS) data when prices are broken down by region, the north is recording the best results, with NSW price average trending around 970c/kg to 1018c/kg cwt due to tight supplies at most northern selling centres.

Mecardo analyst Olivia Agar said there is a way to go yet before prices come under significant pressure.

"It's the surge in Victorian lambs we see during September to November that is usually the catalyst for the ESTLI to reach its seasonal low," Ms Agar said.

"So a big step down in price isn't likely to come until the Victorian throughput starts to swell."

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