Increase yardings dampen prices

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Author: Olivia Agar

A lacklustre week for lamb across the eastern half of the nation saw the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) drift lower to test 827¢/kg cwt on Thursdays close, down from 835¢/kg cwt last week. Higher east coast yardings contributed to the softer prices.

It was NSW that drove the ESTLI lower this week, as the 26¢ fall for trade lambs in NSW saw prices back to pre-Christmas levels.  Restocker lambs in NSW lost 31¢ but still managed to retain the title of highest indicator in the land, at 993¢/kg cwt.  By contrast, light lambs in SA fell 58¢ to sit at a paltry 539¢/kg cwt. 

It wasn’t all bad news for growers in SA, with Restocker lamb prices rallying 61¢, or 7% to 982¢/kg cwt. Heavy lamb prices lost ground in all eastern states, with the indicator shedding 18 ¢ to 797¢/kg cwt. If you compare this week’s market to 12 months ago it doesn’t look that flash. All indicators in all states bar one is below the same time last year.

In Western Australia, the Restocker Lamb Indicator is currently at 847¢/kg cwt which is 21% higher than the same time last year. The stronger market in WA has seen some categories of lamb close in on eastern states prices, Light lamb and Mutton Indicators are just 5¢ below their counterparts in SA. Merino Lambs in WA are also at a 10¢ premium to Victoria, the last time this happened was August 2020.  

The rise in Mutton prices hit the brakes this week with the National Mutton Indicator falling 5¢ to 633¢/kg cwt.

Total east coast lamb yardings increased 8% for the week ending the 5th of March to see 192,524 lambs yarded. This was 7% higher than the five-year seasonal average, with all states contributing to the lift.  More sheep were also drawn to yards, with a 9% week-on-week increase. Sheep yardings are still trailing below average and last year’s levels.

The supply of lambs to slaughter also lifted last week, up 2% in the east. The 311,805 head processed was 13% below the five-year seasonal average. An extra 5k lambs were processed in Victoria to see the state’s total slaughter above 150K for the first time since the week before Australia day.

The week in lamb & sheep
East coast lamb yardings
East coast lamb slaughter

The week ahead

We usually see saleyard lamb supply drift lower from here as we head toward Winter. This should keep prices supported through any dips.