Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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