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Weekly cattle and sheep market wrap

16 December 2021

Key points:

  • The National Heavy Lamb indicator is currently operating 95c stronger than 2020 levels
  • United States lamb exports are operating 18% stronger in year-to-date terms compared with 2020
  • Roma restocker yearling steers averaged 800c/kg lwt at the Tuesday sale.

Heavy lamb prices roll on  

  • The National Heavy Lamb Indicator (NHLI) is currently operating 95c, or 11%, stronger than this time 12 months ago, sitting at 870c/kg cwt.  
  • Compared with 2019, at the height of the eastern states drought when the indicator was at from 720c/kg cwt, it is now 150c, or 17%, higher.  
  • Tight supply has driven the price premium of 2021, with 19,000 less heavy lambs yarded at this date compared with 2020.  
  • At a state level, NSW is leading the way in terms of year-on-year growth, sitting 113c, or 13%, higher in 2021 compared with 2020.  
  • Interestingly, the National Heavy Lamb Indicator has seen more heavy weight lambs go through the NSW saleyards in its seven-day rolling average compared with Victoria. However, Victoria has been carrying the lion’s share of total lamb yardings over December. 
    • The large cohort of lot fed or grain-assisted lambs and the outstanding season southern NSW has experienced are key contributors to this.  
  • When looking at key drivers of the domestic heavy lamb price appreciation, the US for the year-to-date stands out as the key reason prices continue to be paid higher than historical averages.  
    • Lamb exports to the US for the year-to-November are operating 18% stronger than 2020 levels – an increase of 9,300 tonnes.  
    • The US is now recognised as the largest destination for Australian lamb exports.  
  • MLA’s Export Trade Dashboard can be found here. 

Cattle wrap  

  • At Roma on Tuesday, restocker yearling steers averaged 800c/kg lwt, putting the spotlight firmly on Queensland’s herd rebuild. The rebuild will now be dependent on strong summer rain to continue to build pasture bases and provide females the opportunity of a solid grazing base.  
    • The six highest averaging sales this week were all from Queensland for restocker yearling steers, demonstrating the confidence producers have in the industry at present.  
  • Restocker cattle improved by 30c week-on-week at Gunnedah on Tuesday to average 636c/kg lwt.  
    • This demonstrates the continued demand from north-western NSW buyers for restocker cattle.  
    • Restockers at Gunnedah are paying an 85c/kg lwt, or 13%, premium to feeder buyers. 
  • The National Feeder Steer Indicator continues to hover around record levels, demonstrating the confidence of feeder buyers and their appetite to compete with restockers to fill pens.  
  • MLA’s Feeder Steer Indicator dashboard can be found here.