Lamb prices and slaughter update

31 October 2018

Eastern states weekly lamb slaughter has continued to move closer towards the five-year average after falling to a trough in mid-August. This comes mainly on the back of an increase in supply of heavier new season lambs entering the market from Victoria. Prices have dipped slightly this week after good increases over the previous fortnight of around 100¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) across all categories.

Slaughter

After tracking above the five-year average for most of the first half of 2018, eastern states lamb slaughter saw a sharp decrease at the end of winter, as heavier, slaughter ready lambs became harder to find. As the new season lambs began to enter the market in larger numbers, especially in Victoria, the supply of well-conditioned trade and heavy lambs has started to ramp up – evident in the slaughter figures.

Eastern states slaughter last week totaled 352,000 head, a 42% increase from two months ago. This lift in processing has been largely driven by SA and Victoria, up 103% and 44%, respectively, over that period.

Saleyard throughput and prices

Saleyard throughput of heavy lambs (22.1-30kg cwt) has begun to increase since the beginning of October after a limited supply through August and September. Despite the increase in yardings, the national heavy lamb indicator has remained strong, reaching 825¢ last Thursday – although easing slightly this week to finish at 781¢/kg cwt yesterday (Tuesday 30 October).

As a comparison across the states this week, heavy lambs in:

  • NSW averaged 814¢ - up 180¢/kg cwt year-on-year
  • Victoria averaged 839¢ - up 227¢/kg cwt year-on-year
  • SA averaged 817¢ - up 219¢/kg cwt year-on-year
  • WA averaged 553¢ - up 93¢/kg cwt year-on-year

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