State Market watch: South Australia

08 August 2018

Key points:

  • The dry conditions have seen heavy lambs become hard to find, with subsequent large increases in price over the past few weeks.
  • Cattle prices have seen the opposite trend, with saleyard throughput increasing as dry conditions continue.


Although SA has seen some rainfall during the past few weeks, most of the state saw below or very much below average rainfall for July, with some areas in the states north experiencing drought conditions.


Since mid-June, Australian sheep and lamb saleyard indicators have tracked above year-ago levels. SA is no exception, with the SA trade lamb indicator averaging 751¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) last week (week ending 3 August), up 41%, or 217¢, on the same time last year.

Tighter supplies, solid export demand and a lower A$ has provided support to the market, despite severe rainfall deficiencies across many key sheep producing regions. The dry conditions have seen heavy lambs become hard to find, with demand for these seeing an even larger increase, up 46% year-on-year, averaging 804¢/kg cwt last week. Last week at Naracoorte saleyard, the trade lamb indicator reached 754¢/kg cwt, while SA Livestock Exchange saw the indicator hit 750¢/kg cwt. There were just over 19,200 head yarded at these MLA reported saleyards in SA last week, up slightly week-on-week for both selling centres.

SA lamb slaughter, as reported by MLA, totalled almost 34,500 head at the conclusion of last week, 39% lower year-on-year. The closure of a major processor in January has had largely contributed to SA sheep and lamb slaughter tracking below 2017 levels for most of this year.


Cattle prices have seen the opposite trend to sheep in recent months, with most indicators tracking lower year-on-year. The SA trade steer indicator averaged 493¢/kg cwt at the conclusion of last week, back 14% year-on-year. SA saleyard throughput has steadily increased since June, totalling almost 1,415 head last week, with Naracoorte seeing the greatest numbers, at 815 head.

Similar to sheep and lamb, SA cattle slaughter remains below year-ago levels. Last week, SA cattle slaughter totalled almost 4,665 head, back 29% from 2017 levels.

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