Markets looking strong for lamb
IT is interesting to reflect on how times have changed.
This being the week of the Royal Launceston Show week it reminds me of my father’s words back in 1973 when I arrived home from Victoria. He told me that if we didn’t have our new season’s lambs (he would have called them suckers) sold by Launceston Show time, it was too late.
In Tasmania over the past few years we have seen no real numbers of new lambs until mid-November.
When I first started reporting on lamb markets in the late 1980s there were many large properties who would have big numbers of early lambs. Places like Glen Esk, Logan, Formosa and many Midlands properties would all have heaps of lambs by this time of the year.
Nowadays there are very few early lambs from May or June. New season’s lamb numbers in northern Victoria and NSW come early while western Victorian producers are more like us and their big numbers come in November and December.
Now to today’s trends. Lamb prices have continued to average around 600c/kg in South Australia, Victoria and NSW, which is terrific money for lambs straight off their mothers.
The season in many parts of NSW has been pretty average despite rains over the past week and as a result big numbers of light immature lambs have been coming to the market to be processed for the Middle East trade or going back to the paddock.
In NSW for September more than 50,000 lambs out of the saleyards were sold to restockers, four times greater than the same month in 2016.
There are conflicting ideas about where the lamb market is headed. The most positive was in a report from ABARES last week that predicted an average lamb price of 625c/kg for the 2017-2018 financial year. If this was to be accurate, one would expect good prices come autumn and early winter.
Numbers usually start to flow in western Victorian yards from the end of October but apparently it is very wet, which may make it interesting in terms of quality. Better recent rains through the Riverina may also encourage restockers back into the market.
Locally, rain seems to be common in the North and not so in the Midlands and the South, particularly the East Coast and South-East.
This sort of season in the South will mean that feed is scarce and turning off lambs may need to be premature.
At least the money will be OK. At northern Midlands markets this week restockers paid $122 to $125 for trade lambs, $102 to $120 for light trade and $62 to $96 for light and very small lambs.
There will no doubt be strong interest in well-bred store lambs as the cost of buying and freighting from Bendigo, Horsham or Wagga is prohibitive.