Lamb supplies contract

25 February 2016

With only a few days of summer to go, national lamb numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards during (December to February) are 13% below last year, at 1.6 million head, and 14% lower than the five year average (1.8 million head). Lamb sales through saleyards, particularly during December and January, was lower compared to the previous five years.

The dry conditions in Victoria and SA in late 2014 and 2015 have resulted in limited supplies, with an unusually large number of lambs sold in October and November 2015 (529,286 sold Victoria and 124,155 head in SA in November). This consequently has tightened supplies into summer, with Victoria and SA numbers contracting 21% and 35% year-on-year, to 588,397 head and 113,049 head, respectively. NSW throughput has remained on par with summer 2014-15 levels, while yardings in WA eased 33%, to 95,763 head.

The national trade lamb indicator struggled to match year-ago levels, averaging 526¢/kg cwt so far this summer, down 10¢. Positively, however, this is 48¢ higher than the five year average (478¢/kg cwt).

As June is typically the lowest supply month for the year, it will be interesting to see how lamb supplies track through autumn and into winter. However, it is expected that this tighter supply will support lamb prices going forward, provided rain is received soon.  

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