Prices get a nudge as lamb supply tightens

Lamb supply continues to tighten


ESTLI picks up a few cents, but national indicators remain volatile across the country.


Less lambs hitting the market gave prices a nudge across the country with the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESLTI) picking up an extra 30 cents for the week to end at 843c per kilogram carcase weight.

And the National Mutton Indicator also made gains rising 19c to 655c/kg cwt - just 19c below the same time last year.

East coast lamb yardings dropped seven per cent compared to the week before to 162,390.

Sheep throughput was also down in the east, with six per cent fewer sheep yarded than the week prior.

But when comparing Victoria and New South Wales, looking at the five year seasonal average, NSW lamb yardings were 22pc below average, but in Victoria, they were six per cent higher.

And prices in Victoria weren't too far off what the industry was experiencing in 2020, albeit the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator down 70c compared to this time last year.

Bendigo livestock agent Nick Byrne of Nutrien Ag Solutions said when looking at Bendigo's combined sheep and lamb average they were within 50c of what it was at the same period last year.

"You'd have to preface that by saying lambs would be heavier this year compared to last year, because of the season that we have had, it has been very good in our area," Mr Byrne said.

"It's only been in the last six to eight weeks that we have started to struggle a little bit. There has been no big autumn break like we had last year."

He said sheep and lamb numbers are likely to "pull up" from this point going forward.

"We have a new set of lambs on the ground now so most of our old lambs and spring lambs are gone," he said.

"There are still a few finishers and feedlotters with a few numbers about, but generally speaking the bulk of the numbers have gone down."

Mr Byrne said it is hard to see significant numbers of early season suckers this year with most of the area's early suckers coming from the north of Bendigo where the rain has been notably less and even non-existent in some places.

"I don't think there will be the early lambs we had last year, but when they do come there will be more of them," he said.

"There will be more lambs on the ground that will take more feeding and we don't have as much feed as we had last year."

This will change the dynamic of the market considerably, he said.

"The weather will obviously play a big part in that, but on face value, there won't be many early lambs over the 30kg mark so it will be interesting to see how that side of supply/demand weighs out come early spring," Mr Byrne said.

In the meantime, in Western Australia last week, 16,443 head were yarded which was a slight lift week on week but 15pc below the seasonal average.

Trade lambs also improved, gaining 24c over the week to 719c/kg cwt.

A year-on-year comparison shows the WA Trade Lamb Indicator is also 70c lower.

Strong processor buying saw the National Heavy Lamb Indicator lift 9c over the week to 796c/kg cwt.

Heavy lambs are trading at about 76c under the same time last year.

Restocker lambs lost any gains made the week before, dropping 23c to 847c/kg cwt.

They were hardest hit in SA and NSW where the Restocker Lamb Indicators dropped a massive 110c in SA, and 80c in NSW a single week.

Light lamb prices also softened, the national indicator dropping 9c to 765c/kg cwt.

Looking forward to spring, Mr Byrne said the high number of ewes and the ewes joined combined with lower mortality rates support a predicted increase in numbers.

"All those things in our neck of the woods are pretty spot on. The negative in all of that is the lack of autumn feed as opposed to this time last year," he said.

"Last year all our dry-land farmers were lambing onto green paddocks and the lambs were away from the day they were born.

"Whereas this year there is a lot of hand feeding going on.

"Even if it does start raining now it has got there will be a continuing of hand feeding going on for a significant period.

"There will be more lambs on the ground that that will take more feeding and we don't have as much feed as we had last time."

Mr Byrne said if possible, those producers that can get their lambs up early, before September, will be handsomely rewarded.

"It used to be if you got a dry October, yardings would go from 20,000 to 40,000 head overnight, people would just offload," he said.

"But nowadays with containment areas and irrigated pastures and even just farm practices where people might wean their lambs early and put them on the crop, we don't seem to get those big spikes in supply that lead to decline in prices.

"While the Australian flock is significantly lower than it has been, if the market drops seriously in one week, producers will tend to ride the storm out a bit longer.

"But we don't tend to get those sustained periods of huge yardings over a big area."

The story Prices get a nudge as lamb supply tightens first appeared on Farm Online.


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