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Lamb slaughter figures indicate rebuild is underway

18 March 2021

Key points:

  • Victorian and NSW lamb slaughter figures ease year-on-year to indicate rebuild priorities
  • Lower saleyard volumes and prices deliver unexpected opportunity for producers to focus on rebuild
  • Restocker lambs continue to demand high prices in NSW compared to other states.

Lamb slaughter figures in the eastern states have eased by an average of 3% week-on-week. Importantly, both NSW and Victoria’s lamb slaughter figures have eased by 2% year-on-year, reaffirming that the rebuild of the national flock has taken priority, particularly in the key sheep states of NSW and Victoria. Supply will be critical to the price fluctuations of the market, while also providing the key indicator to the pace of the flock rebuild across the eastern seaboard.

Restocker lambs in NSW have been the least impacted price-wise, as the indicator is currently operating at 991¢/kg, not far behind early 2020 when it sat at 1050¢. These prices have been driven by improved seasonal conditions over the past, and they’re set to continue for the key sheep producing regions throughout northern, central and southern NSW. Producer hunger to continue increasing numbers has been pivotal to the NSW restocker indicator remaining high, driven by the softening of slaughter figures for lambs in the state year-on-year. This is despite over-the-hooks prices continuing to offer an enticing option for producers to supply the market and make profitable returns on investment.

Softer prices aiding the rebuild

Plenty of price easings can be seen across the indicators throughout the eastern states in recent times. A key factor for this can be attributed to processor demand for sheep and lambs softening as supply quotas have been filled. With yardings continuing to ease significantly in volume and demand from saleyards softening, producers are being provided an opportunity to hold stock, continue to utilise feed opportunities and focus on their flock rebuilds.

As NSW provides a key indicator to the overall strength of the rebuild nationally, the lower saleyard prices and volumes continue to provide an unexpected window of opportunity for producers to focus on rebuilding without the temptation of hot saleyard prices. This will be important in the context of the coming years to re-establish the national flock and position it to meet growing domestic and international demand.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021