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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

03 September 2021

Key points:

  • EYCI drops 34¢, or 3%, this week to 994¢/kg cwt
  • Trade lamb prices turnaround, again approaching record levels
  • Lamb slaughter in Victoria above year-ago levels, however, the gap is closing


The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) EYCI fell 34¢/kg, or 3%, this week as supply through Roma surged. Roma is the biggest contributor of EYCI cattle, and had 44% more cattle transacted this week, which put downward pressure on prices. Last week’s higher prices had incentivised producers to take advantage and turn-off stock, driving the higher yarding.

This week, there was also a change in the composition of buyers. Processors were more active in buying EYCI cattle this week – taking 13%. This was a significant rise, as for much of the last quarter they had accounted for under 10% of all purchases. It indicates that processors are considering lighter younger cattle in these times of constrained supply.  

Trade lamb prices

After falling last week, trade lamb prices were resurgent this week, jumping 2%, or 16¢, to 947¢/kg cwt. Sitting at this level, trade lamb prices are closing back in on the all-time record of 951¢/kg set in late August. The jump is due to new season lambs, which command a premium, hitting the market. Young new season trade lambs now make up 65% of all trade lamb sales.

Restocker lamb prices

Restocker lamb prices remain above 1,050¢/kg, demonstrating the positive sentiment for the lamb industry. Interestingly, Merino lamb prices have jumped up 13% since 11 August, despite the stable performance of the Eastern Market Indicator.

Lamb slaughter

Lamb slaughter in Victoria last week was 153,000 head, down 7,000 head, or 4%, on the previous week. This volume is still 25,000 head above the same week in 2020. However, the gap is closing. In 2020 the restrictions on processing capacity occurred in August and were lifted in early September – allowing processing volumes in the state to jump as the spring flush of lambs hit the market. If the current Victorian processing capacity restrictions continue, 2021 processing volumes are likely to fall below those of 2020.