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Cattle and sheep market wrap

10 September 2021

Key points:

  • EYCI rebounds back above 1,000c/kg 
  • Total lamb yardings are up on last spring (so far), but new lamb yardings are down
  • Gap between sheep and lamb OTH prices widens

EYCI 

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) rebounded 2.3% this week, reaching 1,020¢/kg on Wednesday. Smaller yardings helped support the price rise as throughput fell by over 1,000 head.  

Restockers continue to pay an 89¢/kg premium over feedlotters, however the EYCI continues to be driven by strong feedlot demand, with the national feeder steer indicator continuing to break new ground after a surge last week, closing out on 513.50c/kg cwt on Wednesday 9 September.  

Dubbo, which closed its saleyard for two weeks after a positive COVID-19 case was reported, made up 4% of EYCI cattle last week, growing to 8.79% this week.  

Dubbo, which is averaging prices of 1,041¢/kg (20¢/kg) above the EYCI, will not contribute to the Indicator while it is closed, which could impact the EYCI.  

Lamb yardings 

Lamb yardings have increased since the start of August, compared to 2020 levels. However, most of this increase is due to more 2020 old season lambs being offered, with 2021 new season lambs gradually hitting the market.  

If the new season lambs are offered at a time when processing capacity is impacted, prices may ease. 

Sheep and lamb OTH prices 

Since late 2019, lamb and sheep over-the-hooks (OTH) prices have generally trended in the same direction. However, since mid-August, a divergence between the two has appeared. Since 13 August, average sheep OTH prices have eased 3% to 629¢/kg cwt. In the same period, lamb OTH prices have risen 2.7%. 

Eastern States Restocker Lambs 

With anecdotal reports of spring kicking into gear across the Riverina, the central tablelands and parts of southern NSW, lambs to restock have performed well. Although the Eastern States Restocker Lamb Indicator has softened from its heights of 1030¢/kg cwt in late August, the indicator currently sits at 998¢/kg cwt. This is an appreciation of 242¢, or 24%, on the same time in 2020.  

Supply wise, at present lamb yardings in the week compared to 2019 are 6% stronger, with 49,000 restocker lambs yarded, while compared to 2020, yarding volumes in the eastern states are 79% stronger, or 39,000 head. With the price remaining elevated on both 2019 and 2020 levels by 168¢ and 242¢/kg cwt, respectively, the restocker market strength has not been dampened by an uptick in supply. This analysis demonstrates the demand flowing through southern NSW for restocker lambs will continue in order to captialise on the upcoming spring and build flock numbers – an exciting time for the industry.