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Young ewes find price support

24 September 2020

Key points:

  • Largest monthly throughput of young ewes yarded in NSW since February 2011
  • Young ewe prices in NSW have increased on the back of strong restocker competition
  • Favourable conditions are lending further support to store competition

Consecutive years of drought have seen heightened turnoff of breeding ewes across the country, leading to a decline in throughput of young ewes entering the store market in 2020. However, the eastern states young ewe market has experienced significant gains in September, with supply increasing in NSW in particular. For September-to-date in NSW, 4,587 young ewes have been sold through MLA reported saleyards, more than double the throughput reported for the entire month of August. According to National Livestock Reporting Service data, September yardings of young ewes in NSW are the largest reported for a month since February 2011, with a week still to go before October.

The recent influx in yardings across the Riverina and northern parts of NSW supports the rise in producer intentions to rebuild their flocks. Elevated yardings in key sheep producing regions have come on the back of solid rainfall across large parts of the state in recent weeks, as well as continued price support, a higher availability of young ewes to join and a positive three-month outlook for NSW. For the week ending 18 September, restocker Merino young ewes averaged $182, up $39 from the start of September, while first cross young ewes averaged $200, up $26/head over the same period.

In contrast to the eastern states, seasonal conditions in key WA sheep producing regions have been less favourable, with the latest three-month outlook suggesting an equal chance of a wetter or drier end to 2020. WA usually hosts the bulk of the young ewe market, with the primary breed being Merino. However, the long-term decline in the wool market and drier conditions across the state have led to a shift focusing on meat production over wool and increased transfers of sheep out of WA to support strong eastern demand. In WA for the week ending 18 September, young ewes averaged $88, up $22 since the start of September, currently trading at a discount of $94/head to young ewes in NSW.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020