UNSEASONAL COOL HITS STOCK PRICES
AN unusual winter increase in livestock supply has seen Tasmanian sheep and cattle prices retreat from record levels.
Over the past few weeks prices for mutton, lamb and trade cattle have fallen in most states, including Tasmania.
Traditionally winter prices go up as supplies tighten, but this year is different.
Roberts northern livestock manager Nick Towns said increasing supplies of old season’s lambs had been coming on to the market in mainland states, putting downward pressure on prices.
Mr Towns said large numbers of feedlot cattle interstate were now ready for processing, which was also pushing down trade cattle prices.
“I’ve never seen it at this time of the year, normally it’s going in the other direction.
“There are quite a few grain-fed cattle coming on now but it might not last. We’ll probably still see a bit of a gap in September but if the sheep prices keep going down on the mainland them in.”
In recent weeks Mr Towns said lamb prices had dropped about 40 cents per kilogram to about 560c/kg carcass weight.
Cattle prices have fallen by a similar amount and are also sitting at about 560c/kg.
“It has come back a bit but then again we’ve never seen cattle prices sitting at $6 from January right through until July before,” he said.
Cow prices have held steady due to short supply.
Greg Harris from they’ll just bring Elders livestock said a number of interstate processing plants had also slowed down productionfor maintenance work, whichmeant lower numbers of stock being processed.
“There is a lot of mutton sitting around in freezers that the processors have had trouble getting rid of. I think that's why prices have come back a bit.
“There have also been a few new season’s suckers come on the market a bit earlier than they were expecting too.”
Tasmania’s new season’s lambs are unlikely to come on to the market until about November.
Mr Harris said there were also a lot of cattle bought into Tasmania earlier this year that were now ready for processing.
“There were huge number of agistment cattle that came in, something like 25,000 in the first four months, so some of them are ready to go now.
“They are only killing certain amount of assurancescheme cattle because they only want what they can sell.”
Processor JBS Australia is yet to reopen its sheep-killing line at the Longford abattoir after closing it earlier this year due to a shortage of stock.
The company says it will reassess the situation later in the season and make a decision depending on the number of stock available.
It is understood Tasmanian Quality Meats is receiving good support from sheep producers and winter supply numbers have been higher than initially expected.
TQM managing director Brian Oliver was contacted but declined to comment.