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Heavy lamb prices soften as yardings swell

08 April 2021

Key points:

  • Eastern States Heavy Lamb Indicator falls 17¢ in a week
  • Increased supply driving lower prices across saleyards
  • Nationally, heavy lamb volumes have lifted 14,274 head week-on-week compared to 2020

Rainfall across key supply areas over the past fortnight has not eased heavy lamb yardings, as the seasonal conditions and approaching winter cropping program force producers to turn off lambs before planting begins.

The Eastern States Heavy Lamb Indicator fell 17¢ this week, or 2.1%, to sit at 805¢/kg. As producers turn their attention to fast-approaching winter cropping programs across the mixed farming regions of NSW and Victoria, lamb turn-off from farms has lifted, placing downward pressure on prices paid for lambs at the saleyards. The key selling centre Wagga is particularly impacted, where yardings have increased 44% in the past week and 26%, or 3,454 head, since the start of March.

Aiding the increase in the number of heavy lambs yarded across the state has been the milder summer and above-average rains that haven’t hindered the value of the bodies of feed. This has ensured the weight gains made through the spring of 2020 weren’t lost but continued to improve into early autumn before this lamb influx occurred.

The crop of heavy lambs hitting the saleyards nationally compared to same time in 2020 has risen 42%, or 14,274 head. With lambs nurtured by mothering ewes grazing on high quality bodies of feed, this supported nutritious milk production and optimal growing conditions for an improved yarding of heavy lambs to hit the market at this time, compared to the drought of 2019 into early 2020.

Moving forward

As producers with mixed farming operations continue to focus on their cropping programs, expect yardings to continue to lift in the short-term to ensure most lambs are turned off before the planting season begins. Lamb yarding volumes may then return to average seasonal numbers into the Autumn period. As rains continue to ensure excessive volumes of feed across the key lamb supply areas, there is strong potential for heavier lambs to hit the market throughout Autumn.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021