Saleyard lamb prices rise during winter

01 September 2016

National lamb saleyard throughput increased 6% year-on-year during winter (June-August), to average 159,449 head per week.

NSW and Victoria underpinned the overall rise with saleyard supply over winter lifting 10% and 15% on year-ago levels, to average 109,398 head and 30,229 head, respectively. SA lamb yardings slipped 27%, to average 8,781 head per week, while WA throughput decreased 16%, to 10,027 head.

Conversely, average weekly lamb slaughter levels across the eastern states in winter slipped 6% year-on-year, to 309,753 head.

Higher saleyard prices have seen more producers opt to sell stock through saleyards rather than booking direct-to-works. During winter, the restocker lamb indicator lifted 12% year-on-year, averaging 589¢/kg cwt. Restocker purchases for all lambs were up 18% year-on-year, to 92,496 head, with producers looking to place lambs on the abundance of feed available.

Merino lambs lifted 4% to 551¢, while light lambs gained 5% to 566¢/kg cwt. The National Trade Lamb Indicator (NTLI) was 7% higher year-on-year, averaging 609¢ – 21% higher than the five year average (504¢/kg cwt). The heavy lamb indicator increased 6%, to average 624¢/kg cwt for the June to August period.

Looking forward, the spring lamb flush is expected to cause a shift in buyer demand from old to young lambs, typical for this time of year, which may impact prices in the short term. However, good winter rainfall followed by a moderate outlook for spring should continue to provide support for the lamb market over the coming months.

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