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Lamb prices ease as Victorian supply takes over

28 November 2019

Key points:

  • The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator eased 4¢ week-on-week, while restockers strengthen by 13¢ over the same period
  • Victorian yardings eclipse NSW for the first time this year
  • Lamb slaughter remains steady at 350,000 head per week.

Lamb prices have continued their downward trend this week, with all eastern states indicators easing week-on-week except restocker lambs. The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) was trading at 724¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) on Tuesday, 4¢ behind week-ago prices and 38¢ lower than a month ago.

Prices continue to be strongest in NSW, with trade lambs on Tuesday enjoying an 8¢ premium over the same category in Victoria and 4¢ over those in SA. Trade lambs in Queensland were trading at an average of 817¢/kg cwt on Tuesday, albeit for a much smaller yarding sample.

Lighter, restocker lambs are trading at a significant premium to all other categories, averaging 789¢/kg cwt on Tuesday, up 13¢ on week ago prices. All categories of lambs are trading at least 18¢ above year ago levels as the market continues to be very strong.

Slightly tighter supply last week didn’t help strengthen prices, with total eastern states yardings back 11% week-on-week to 179,000 head. This decline comes as the market officially moves to a predominantly southern focussed season, with Victoria yarding more lambs than NSW for the first time in 2019.

This coincided with the same week last year, when Victoria took over the major yardings as Ballarat, Bendigo and Hamilton all recorded increased throughput. This trend will likely continue, with sales, particularly at Hamilton and Ballarat, generally increasing from now through to the end of the year.

Lamb slaughter has remained fairly stable at around 350,000 head each week in recent weeks, an 8% decline from the elevated numbers entering processors this time last year. The majority of lambs continue to enter Victorian slaughter floors, accounting for 57% of total slaughter throughput last week.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2019

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