Lamb buoyant, but cattle weak in Australia

by Editor
Monday, March 09, 2009

An 18% fall in yardings saw lamb markets strengthen again this week, led by Merino and light categories, according to Meat and Livestock Australia's (MLA) markets update.

MLA's lamb indicator prices are now between 21% (restockers) and 34% (heavy lambs) higher than a year ago – record levels for this time of the year.

This is not due to supply, as numbers are still a little higher than last year's.

Rather, the explanation lies in strong overseas demand, principally from the U.S. and Middle East, assisted by the low $A and constrained New Zealand supplies.

Mutton sheep prices rose significantly in Victoria and SA, as nationally numbers declined 15%, with Middle East demand for sheepmeat and live sheep remaining strong.

In contrast to lamb, MLA reports cattle markets this week remain weak and are still struggling to reach last year's prices.

Saleyard prices for export grades are now close to those of last year, after rises over recent weeks, but young cattle remain around 5pc lower.

Some lift in restocker and feeder demand this week and lower southern supplies failed to appreciably lift young cattle or feeder prices.

However, there was a welcome rise in medium steers and Japan ox prices in Queensland this week, with the Japan ox rise spreading across