Market watch: sheepmeat

02 May 2018

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) has tracked below 2017 levels since early March and the lack of a decent autumn break continues to put pressure on the market.


Eastern states lamb slaughter has seen an increasing trend over the past month, totalling almost 1.48 million head – up 19% year-on-year, although tracking closely to 2016 levels.

In contrast to 2017, this year has seen continued dry seasonal conditions in the south, which have been a contributing factor in the offloading of stock, with the largest increases seen in major sheep producing regions. NSW saw an increase of 30% year-on-year, totalling 426,125 head, while Victoria processed 818,448 head, up 29% on year-ago levels. Meanwhile, SA has seen a decrease in the number of lambs slaughtered in April, by 21%, totalling 199,247 head.

Eastern states sheep slaughter has seen a similar trend to lamb, tracking very closely to 2016 levels, totalling 427,995 for April, up 34% year-on-year.

National lamb saleyard throughput for April increased 8% year-on-year, totalling 789,466 head. The drier conditions seen this year were a driver for this increase. NSW saw the largest increase, up 27% on year-ago levels. Numbers at Dubbo jumped 53% to 87,420 head for the month, and Forbes saw an increase of 35%, to total 93,300 head. Victoria saw the opposite trend, with April throughput back 21% year-on-year, to 170,064 head, with numbers down at most of the NLRS reported saleyards.

National sheep saleyard throughput for April has seen a massive increase from 2017 levels, increasing 53%, to 361,434 head. NSW again saw the largest increases here, at 209,333 head, up by 78% year-on-year. Dubbo and Forbes again saw large increases, doubling and tripling their throughput of 2017, up 97% and 215%, respectively. Victoria also saw an increase in sheep coming through the saleyards, up by 56% on 2017, totalling 80,795 head for the month.


The ESTLI has tracked below 2017 levels since early March with the lack of a decent autumn break pressuring the market. The Indicator opened April at 613¢, before easing to 571¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) on 19 April – the lowest point of the month.

During the second half of April, the ESTLI has rallied despite strong supplies, finishing the month above the 600¢ mark – at 604¢/kg cwt. A softer Australian dollar has assisted export demand, in keeping Australian product competitive in international markets while domestic prices remain relatively strong.

Back to News

Join myMLA today

One username and password for key integrity and information Systems (LPA/NVD, NLIS, MSA & LDL).

A personalised online dashboard that provides news, weather, events and R&D tools relevant to you.

Customised market information and analysis.

Learn more about myMLA

myMLA Sign Up

Already registered for myMLA?

Sign in here