Strong start for sheepmeat market

16 January 2018

Key points:

  • Saleyard prices have opened higher than year ago levels
  • Higher rainfall in February could see prices supported with strengthening buyer demand
  • Over-the-hook indicators have opened higher year-on-year.

2018 opened on a strong note for the Australian sheepmeat market, with both over-the-hook indicators and saleyard prices higher than where they finished in 2017 and also higher compared to year-ago levels:

  • National trade lamb indicator opened at 695¢/kg cwt, up 95¢ year-on-year
  • National mutton indicator opened at 451¢/kg cwt, up 68¢ on year-ago levels
  • National medium trade lamb (18–20kg) over-the-hook indicator opened at 661¢/kg cwt, 5.5¢ higher than 2017’s June peak of 655.5¢/kg cwt and up 137¢ on year-ago levels.
  • National medium sheep (18–24kg) over-the-hook indicator opened at 439.9¢/kg cwt, up 94¢ year-on-year.

The upward trend was evident across many of the major selling centres last week. The first sale of the year at Bendigo saw trade lambs (18–22kg cwt) average $145/head (or an estimated 685¢/kg cwt), up $28 from the same time last year.

Elsewhere, trade lambs averaged higher year-on-year at:

  • CVLX Ballarat - $145/head (or 679¢/kg cwt), up by $27.20
  • Dubbo – $145.70/head (or 687¢/kg cwt), $26.20
  • Muchea – $136.40/head (or 646¢/kg cwt), up by $25.80
  • Naracoorte – $145/head (or 679¢/kg cwt), up by $27.50
  • Wagga Wagga - $139.30/head (or 624¢/kg cwt), up by $16.00.

Furthermore, lamb and sheep saleyard throughput last week was higher year-on-year for most states. Lamb yardings increased to a greater extent than sheep, up 69% nationally year-on-year. Consignments in NSW recorded the largest increases of 71% (or 66,750 head) and 53% (or 19,651 head) for lambs and sheep, respectively. Victorian lamb throughput last week totalled just over 108,000 head, an increase of 65% (or almost 43,000 head) from year-ago levels. SA was the only state to see a decrease in sheep numbers, back 18% or just under 700 head, totalling 3,600 head.

Eastern states lamb slaughter totalled just above 358,000 head last week, back 6% or just under 25,000 head from the same time last year. The bulk of the decrease was seen in SA, down by just over 27,000 head.

Mutton slaughter for the same period decreased 3% year-on-year to just over 110,000 head. NSW saw the biggest increase, up by 30% or 12,000 head to just under 51,000 head. SA drove the decrease, back by 74% (or 18,000 head) year-on-year, totalling just over 6,000 head.

The latest Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) three-month rainfall outlook indicates February is likely to be wetter than average for most of the country, and fairly average conditions out to April. If a decent autumn break comes to fruition, it will continue to provide support for the market and encourage restocking activity.

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