Victoria – state of the state
27 July 2012
The dry Victorian summer and autumn, especially throughout the western districts, left many producers disadvantaged entering winter. Many districts were forced to feed out early, eating into supplies designated for the winter as the autumn break was slow to arrive.
A drier, warmer than average winter followed on from summer in the Mallee and Wimmera. The Gippsland and Central Highland regions also experienced warmer temperatures, however, rainfall was higher with many areas set back by flooding. As the end of winter approaches, many producers are hoping that the spring break may arrive early and relieve some pressure.
There has been no clear trend in sheep markets in recent months. Buyer enthusiasm was dampened throughout winter due to lower quality, which was the dominant theme across both sheep and lamb sales. Producers reacted to erratic week-on-week price changes by withholding certain classes of stock. As supply fluctuated heavily, this in turn sent mixed price messages throughout the markets.
Mutton, heavy and extra heavy lamb sales have performed the most consistently, falling within a small window of variation and generally meeting good demand. The last fortnight has witnessed a reappearance of new season lambs. These are not selling strong as last year, with lightweights averaging 466¢ and heavyweights performing best at 495¢/kg cwt.
Cattle quality has fared better than that of sheep, as the wetter conditions earlier in the year provided a good feed base. Despite this, the chilly nights and crisp days are still evident, especially on the younger classes of stock. The reduction in the number of well finished cattle discouraged some buyers, however, there was good buyer competition.
Cattle prices for 2012 were highest at the start of autumn and receded as winter approached, and producers reduced their stocking rates. Most prices slowly regained ground through the season. Demand for beef from the processing sector placed good price pressure on vealers, grown steers and cows, which sold to an increasing price trend. Lighter weight yearling prices did not perform as well and were mostly steady, despite good enquiry from feeder buyers.