Young lambs take to the field

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Author: Olivia Agar

After last week’s market was defeated by a surge in lamb supplies, the correction kept some sellers away and most yards reported lower throughput this week. The market ended weaker again, with light lambs coming out with a sole victory in price improvements.

A large lift in supply last week was the contender to what had been a rallying market. Lamb yardings on the east coast for the week ending the 16th of October were 37% higher than the week prior. It wasn’t just a full field of lambs on show though, both young and old crowded saleyards with sheep yardings also 43% higher than the week prior. NSW, Vic and SA all contributed to the lift in throughput, however NSW deserved an honourable mention. Lamb yardings in NSW were 42% higher than the five-year average for this time in the year.

The rise in slaughter didn’t quite match the rise in yardings. East coast lamb slaughter was 14% higher than the week prior, and sheep slaughter was up 13%. Although, a quick glance at the year on year change in sheep supply explains why mutton prices have been holding up so well.

Despite anecdotal reports of lower supplies this week, the numbers were enough to see price penalties for most categories. So, who were the winners and losers of this week’s market?

Light lambs landed the trophy thanks to strong demand in SA and WA. The National light lamb indicator gained 12¢ on the week to end at 788¢/kg cwt. The wooden spoon went Restocker lambs which ended the week 33¢ under last weeks close.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator lost 13¢ on the week while the Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator continued to make up ground, gaining another 16¢ to 634¢/kg cwt.
Results for sheep were mixed between the states, but overall the National Mutton Indicator (NMI)  fell 7¢ to 603¢/kg cwt. The NMI is still sitting 11% higher than the same time last year.

The week in sheep and lamb
Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator
East coast lamb and sheep yardings

The week ahead

As reported by Angus Brown earlier in the week, lamb supply is expected to track around last year’s levels in November and December. With the market currently trading at near year-ago prices, it may follow a similar easing trend out till the end of the year, assuming the demand is still there.