Article by: Hari Yellina
The national indicator has risen due to tightening restocker lamb supply across the country, as well as favourable seasonal conditions resulting in increased turn off weights. The national restocker lamb indicator was up 16c from last week and 11c higher than a year ago as of Monday’s closing of business. The restocker indicator was highest in South Australia, at 996°C, followed by 987°C in NSW and 894°C in Victoria, and lowest in Queensland, at 718°C. Other national indicators showed light lamb down 44 cents to 810 cents, Merino lamb down 41 cents to 729 cents, trade lamb down 15 cents to 817 cents, heavy lamb down 13 cents to 814 cents, and mutton down 26 cents to 548 cents.
South Australia was reaching good prices at the moment, notably in Naracoorte, and Wagga Wagga was performing well in NSW, but the throughput was coming from Victorian saleyards, according to MLA market information office Stephen Bignell. “Both Ballarat and Hamilton are getting yardings,” he added. “We actually witnessed lower carcase weights in the fourth quarter of 2021 than we expected, and it traces directly to the meadows… without actually requiring the heat there, we had the extra water but not the strength of pastures, so carcase weights for December were lower than we expected.”
Because of the Victorian processing issue last year and the supply chain issues this year, the industry is seeing more heavy lambs than it would have expected, as well as fewer restocker, light, and trade lambs than they would have expected. Mutton had a spike in the indicator in South Australia, increasing 68c from previous week to reach 578c, which was still 7c lower than a year ago. Moreover, mutton was coming back on board, according to Mr Bignell, after producers kept older ewes for the past two years in order to get an extra lamb out of them.
“We predict a slight increase in supply across the board in all lamb categories, given that we had a larger lamb cohort in 2021 and they didn’t fully enter the market, and there were a few processing delays in January due to COVID-19.” “We expect the lambs hitting the markets in the coming month to be heavier, so there may be less restocker lamb available.”