Life on the land in Australia


Lambs are still relatively high, across the board, and still above the five-year average

LAMB prices may have taken a slight dip in recent weeks, with seasonal conditions and softening demand playing a role, but confidence in the market is strong and lambs are still performing well overall.

Meat and Livestock Australia market information manager Ben Thomas said NSW lamb prices had been trending a little cheaper.

Overall, however, he said the market was positive.

“Lambs are still relatively high, across the board, and still above the five-year average.”

He said the decline in price had come a little earlier than usual.

Playing a role in this was the over-the-hooks indicator, which was down as well and pointed to a downward trend for prices during the next few weeks.

He said he also expected a decline in lamb and mutton slaughter rates this year.

“In the first couple of months of this year, lamb slaughter is a fraction below where it was this time last year,” he said.

“Of the lamb categories, heavy lambs are currently at 531 cents a kilogram in NSW.

“The category that has declined the least has been the light restocker lambs, which are at 477c/kg.”

Davidson Cameron and Company livestock manager Scott Newberry, Tamworth, said lambs had not been selling as well as they had a month to six weeks ago, but prices were still “pretty fair”.

He said the top lambs at Tamworth’s prime sheep and lamb sale sold for $145.

Some lambs coming through the saleyards had been showing the effects of dryness and heat, particularly those from areas such as Narrabri and Gunnedah.

Better selling, better quality lambs were from areas which had seen some rain, and many of those lambs were also likely to have been supplementary fed with grain.

“There’s not a huge amount of numbers here,” Mr Newberry said.

He said given dry conditions last year, a lot of producers had sold surplus ewes and as such lamb numbers were fewer this year.

“The store lambs are in quite strong demand, with restockers looking to source them and planning to fatten them through the winter.”

While prices had come back he still considered the lamb market to be strong.

Elders Wagga Wagga livestock manager Peter Cox said the prime lamb sale on Thursday was expected to be a little softer, and it was.

He said heavy lambs could have been up to $15 cheaper.

“(The market is) a little demand driven at the moment – and there’s a bit of softening in demand.”

He said there remained plenty to be pleased about in the lamb market.

“Producers these days do a very good job – the quality is fine,” he said.

“Light lambs are still selling exceptionally well.

“I think long term, there’s still some great positives.”

Restocker/feeder lambs weighing less than 18 kilograms were sitting at 533c/kg on Tuesday night.

The prime lambs weighing from 18kg to 22kg were sitting at 520c/kg.


Henry Sapiecha


February 26th, 2015

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