Figures sum up season
THE first quarter of 2018 is done and dusted and Meat and Livestock Australia has released some interesting figures on sheep and cattle covering that period.
The national cattle yardings for the first quarter in were 19 per cent higher year on year, with NSW and Queensland numbers up 31 per cent and 33 per cent respectively, while Victoria and Western Australia declined 4 per cent.
The number of adult cattle processed in the eastern states for the January to March period was up 4 per cent from the same time last year, but down 9 per cent on 2016 levels.
In NSW, the kill was up 7 per cent while Queensland was up 2 per cent. In Victoria numbers processed increased by 20 per cent. In South Australia the figure fell 32 per cent – this coincided with a fire at Thomas Foods International at Murray Bridge, which has closed the abattoir until it is re-built.
Price levels were interesting with the Eastern States Young Cattle indicator averaging 544c/kg carcass weight, down 14 per cent on last year but 19 pre cent above the five-year average for the March quarter.
It should be noted this figure has been mainly driven by restocker and feeder activity with slaughter prices much closer to the 500c/kg mark.
Now to lambs and sheep. The eastern states lamb slaughter for the quarter lifted 2 per cent, underpinned by larger numbers in Victoria and NSW (the Murray Bridge fire would have an effect). Lamb prices have held up very well with averages around 623c/kg while mutton prices averaged 415c/kg carcass weight.
Now to this week’s trends and we see lamb averages have well and truly dipped under 600c/kg with prices on Wednesday at Hamilton, even with lower numbers easing $5 to $10 a head. Most trade weights averaged 570c/kg to 575c/kg and extra heavy pens 555c/kg carcass weight.
The very dry season in Victoria and much of NSW is bringing more lambs to the market and quality is only average in most saleyards.
I wonder if the lamb numbers will continue into the winter or whether we suddenly see a shortage. Remember most forward contract prices are in the 630/kg to 650c/kg range for winter kill. Time will tell.
At least the value of the Australian currency compared with the US dollar is comfortable at the moment. Now it is just a matter of US President Donald Trump closing his Twitter account.