Scattered rainfall combined with tighter supply has boosted already-resilient saleyard prices, with the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) reaching 721¢/kg carcase weight (cwt) on Tuesday, 9¢/kg higher than the previous record set on Friday.
Saleyard sheep and lamb prices have been resilient in 2018, despite abundant supply and limited restocker activity.
In recent weeks, some rainfall in drought-affected areas combined with a slight tightening of supply has lit a fire under prices, with processors competing fiercely for finished lambs.
While parts of central NSW received some helpful falls over the last week, over 99% of the state remains in ‘drought watch’ conditions or worse (according to NSW Department of Primary Industries).
Elsewhere, parts of Victoria and SA saw a number of cold fronts induce rain in early June; however, meaningful falls have been scarce. Likewise, south-western WA received scattered falls throughout early June, although the season has been largely disappointing thus far.
The traditional winter shortage has begun to impact lamb numbers, while dry conditions in NSW have seen increased sheep yardings.
For the month of June, eastern states lamb yardings totalled 679,000 head, down 134,000 head (17%) year-on-year, driven by a 21% decline in NSW.
Market reports suggest lamb supply has fallen across most categories, particularly in southern NSW saleyards where lighter weight lambs are often well-supplied at this time of year.
Along with trade and lighter weight lambs, heavy lamb numbers have fallen, with reports the high cost of feed is limiting producer capacity to finish stock.
Unlike lambs, mutton has remained in reasonable supply. Saleyard throughput fell month-on-month, though not by as much as would usually be expected this time of year. Yardings for the month of June totalled 285,000 head, representing an increase of 54,000 head (24%) on June 2017 numbers.