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Lamb prices decline as yardings increase

22 October 2020

Key points:

  • Lamb yardings continue to increase as sheep yardings decline on year-ago levels
  • Eastern states lamb slaughter is tracking higher year-on-year, bolstered by young lamb supply
  • Lamb prices have declined from last week on the back of increased supply in the market


National lamb yardings totalled 284,623 head for the week ending 16 October, 17% higher compared to the same week in 2019. Lamb yardings in the southern states have been steadily increasing in recent weeks as greater supply of new season lambs enter saleyards. NSW lamb yardings contributed 60% of national yardings last week, followed by Victoria at 27%. National sheep yardings, however, have reported a 44% decline year-on-year, largely attributed to the retention of productive breeding stock following two years of elevated destocking. NSW and Victoria yardings accounted for 55% and 25% of total sheep yardings respectively last week.

The highest sheep and lamb yardings last week were:

  • Wagga Wagga, NSW – 57,000 head
  • Bendigo, Victoria – 41,000 head
  • Forbes, NSW – 29,600 head
  • CVLX Ballarat, Victoria – 24,200 head
  • Corowa, NSW – 24,103 head


For the week ending 16 October, eastern states lamb slaughter totalled 365,945 head, an increase of 14% from the prior week and 4% above year-ago levels. Victoria accounted for the largest throughput of lambs at 49%, as strong numbers of new season lambs continue to enter the market, followed by NSW at 35% and SA at 14%.


Eastern states sheep slaughter was reported 50% below year-ago levels at 71,080 head, with Victoria and NSW accounting for 50% and 35% of total sheep slaughter, respectively. The decline in supply compared to 2019 levels indicates the high retention of productive breeding ewes across the eastern states.


Increased lamb supply as a result of greater numbers of new season lambs entering southern selling centres has seen eastern states lamb indicators decline week-on-week. On Tuesday 20 October, the eastern states indicators were reported at:

  • Light Lamb Indicator – 809¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), steady week-on-week
  • Trade Lamb Indicator – 758¢/kg cwt, back 9¢ week-on-week
  • Heavy Lamb Indicator – 735¢/kg cwt, back 10¢ week-on-week

While lamb prices continue to decline, competition for breeding ewes remains robust, driving price increases in the eastern states. On Tuesday 20 October, the Eastern States Mutton Indicator was reported at 639¢/kg cwt, 3¢ higher week-on-week and 56¢ above year-ago levels. The current market dynamics complement producer intentions to retain productive breeding stock, as the national flock looks towards a rebuild period for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020