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Lamb yardings lift significantly year-on-year

11 March 2021

Key points:

  • For the week ending 5 March, national lamb yardings have lifted by 9%, or 16,000 head, week-on-week
  • Victorian lamb yardings lifted only 7% week-on-week for the week ending 5 March, but year-on-year have risen by 36%, or 20,000 head.
  • Victoria’s relatively strong 2019 season has ensured a higher base of ewes to supply more lambs in early 2021, compared to NSW’s challenges with drought and higher turn-off for the same period.

In recent weeks, lamb yardings across the eastern seaboard have significantly lifted on a week-by-week and year-by-year basis. This is especially evident in NSW, where lamb yardings are up 13% year-on-year.

The dynamics of increased lambs yarded throughout NSW stem from a change of seasonal approach for producers, as many are looking to offload lambs from diminished summer stubbles and turn attention to winter cropping programs, particularly through central west and southern NSW. Cold weather snaps across these regions have further driven producer attitudes to turn lambs off in the event of lamb condition being affected by the weather changes.

In Victoria, lamb yardings have lifted significantly year-on-year, rising by 36%, or 20,000 head, since the same period in 2020. Victoria is the other key lamb selling state in Australia, and has contributed 2.97 million head, or 34% of total lamb yardings on the eastern seaboard, over this period.

After a relatively strong 2019 season in Victoria, the state’s sheep flock was less effected by the drought than NSW’s. This has driven Victoria’s strong lamb supply in early 2021, as the state had a higher number of mothering ewes in comparison to NSW, where producers were forced to turn off breeding stock.  

Increased lamb yardings have currently been exacerbated by hot weather for key summer crop-producing regions in Victoria, as feed quality has diminished. This has incentivised producers to turn-off more stock to ensure the quality of their lambs aren’t hindered, especially as a milder summer supported better growth rates. In similar fashion to NSW, Victorian producers will also now focus on preparing winter cropping programs and turn attention away from lambs.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2021