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Sheep Lamb Prices Strong in 2014

18 December 2014
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - Following the hottest spring on record, summer 2013-14 was warmer than average for Australia and coinciding with this was another season of ‘below average’ rainfall for the eastern states.

Autumn was no exception from the string of warm seasons, influencing turnoff; however, the warm conditions coupled with some timely late season rain did help sowing activities.

A very dry winter and spring persisted across the majority of the eastern states, bringing ‘above average’ temperatures too.

Given the seasonal conditions over the year, it is not surprising that turnoff in 2014 will be higher year-on-year, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

National lamb yardings, as reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, increased 3 per cent year-on-year, to around 9.9 million head.

November 2014 saw lamb turnoff hit the highest point for the year, at 951,693 head, driven by Victorian yardings.

Eastern states average weekly lamb slaughter was 4 per cent higher year-on-year, at 361,353 head.

The last week of September saw the largest lamb kill for the year, at 413,197 head.
National young lamb supply was 17 per cent higher year-on-year, at around 2.7 million head.

The divide between young and old lamb classes became greater during winter as earlier and sustained higher young lamb turnoff was recorded.

Despite conditions deteriorating, restocker lamb purchases in Victoria ramped up in November.

Store lamb buyers were out in force securing any lambs suitable to go onto failed crops or stubble. It is expected that these lamb will filter back through the system early next year.

Although supply showed no signs of tightening throughout the year, national lamb prices managed to climb.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) tracked well above 2013 levels, averaging 513¢/kg cwt during 2014.

The national restocker lamb indicator was 31 per cent higher, on 479¢/kg cwt, while Merino lambs gained 46 per cent, to 449¢/kg cwt. The light lamb indicator increased 28 per cent, to 467¢/kg cwt, while the national trade lamb indicator improved 23 per cent, to 512¢/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were 21 per cent higher on 523¢/kg cwt.

National sheep supply was 16 per cent higher year-on-year, at close to 4.6 million head, as dry conditions throughout the year saw sustained high saleyard turnoff and kill levels.

February and March of this year were the highest turnoff months, with over 520,000 head yarded. Eastern states average weekly mutton slaughter was 3 per cent higher year-on-year, at 149,918 head.

Early February was the largest sheep kill for the year, with 196,088 head processed that week, correlating with the higher supply months of the year.

Although supply was higher, global demand was strong, with processors particularly dominant across the saleyards, as there was little restocker interest due to the dry conditions. The mutton indicator responded, increasing 56 per cent year-on-year, to average 311¢/kg cwt.


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