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Trade lamb prices lift on the back of quality supply

29 July 2021

Key points:

  • New season lambs in NSW are providing support for an appreciating trade lamb market
  • Analysis shows a larger than expected lamb cohort of 2020 may also deliver greater supply in 2021
  • Over the past 12 months, the ESTLI has appreciated $35.50, assumed with a 25kg cwt animal, to average $232/head

In recent weeks new season lambs have hit some saleyards. With better quality lambs being presented, it has lifted trade weight lamb prices. Freshness in skins and limited vegetable matter has provided buyers excellent options to purchase on.

With a month of winter left and a larger than expected lamb cohort of 2020 that has delivered strong supply throughout the traditional autumn/winter lull, analysis expects another increase in the spring flush for 2021. This may place downward pressure on the lamb market.

The saleyards

On Wednesday, Cowra yarded 1,534 new season lambs, accounting for 29% of the yarding. A month ago, no young lambs were registered at all, showing those lambs are beginning to hit the markets.

These lambs averaged 23kg cwt and the majority went to processors.

Since the start of July, new season lambs at Corowa have appreciated 84¢ to sit at 958¢/kg cwt and average $220/head.

While Cowra delivered most of its new season lambs to the processors, lighter types hit Warwick saleyards this week, averaging 17kg cwt, and the restockers were prominent purchasers.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) has lifted strongly over the past month, rising 68¢ to currently sit at 925¢/kg cwt. This is the highest price the indicator has been since 9 June 2020 and a rise of 15% year-on-year, or 142¢/kg cwt.

This analysis suggests the highest prices paid in the winter peak of 2021 are at least six weeks later than 2020, with time still to run prior to the spring flush. To put that into perspective, this would be an increase in $35.50/head, assuming the lambs average 25kg cwt. The heavier carcase weight assumed is due to the seasonal conditions, which has seen turnoff weights for lambs lift while still being purchased by the processors for the domestic trade.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021