Sheep and lamb markets are doing funny things. Lamb slaughter is well behind the same time last year, yet prices keep falling. Sheep slaughter is the same as last year, and on the rise, but prices remain steady.
Figure 1 shows east coast lamb slaughter, which for the week ending the 15th of November was 6% below the same time last year. Victorian lamb slaughter was very close to last year’s levels, it was NSW and South Australia dragging the chain.
With Victorian lamb supply starting to flow, the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (EYCI) continued to drift lower. It wasn’t only Victorian lambs that were cheaper, however. Victorian Trade Lambs were down 26¢ to 703¢/kg cwt, while in NSW they were more expensive but still down 24¢ to 732¢/kg cwt. The ESTLI was not surprisingly in the middle of the two main states, at 718¢/kg cwt (Figure 2).
The ESTLI is still 29¢ stronger than the same time last year, which is partly explained by the lower slaughter.
We looked at the stronger sheep demand earlier in the week and it has continued. Figure 3 shows sheep slaughter lifting again last week to equal last year’s highs. The east coast mutton indicator was steady at 594¢/kg cwt this week, a massive 169¢ premium on last year.
Lamb prices in the West found some strength this week, up 20¢ to 680¢ and a three month high. Mutton prices are still behind the east coast, at 458¢, while restocker lambs look very cheap at 475¢/kg cwt. We suspect it was a small yarding.