AUSTRALIA, Melbourne. The national heavy lamb indicator recently surpassed 900¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), the first time ever it’s exceeded this mark.
The market has come off the boil to a certain extent with the heavy lamb indicator decreasing by 80c/kg cwt, to sit at 836¢. However, it remains at historically high levels and 230¢/kg cwt up on last year.
A market breakdown by weight shows that heavy lambs (22–30kg cwt) coming through saleyards nationally is down from 36% of supply eight weeks ago to just 19% of the total offered last week.
National heavy lamb supply has dropped sharply as producers who had heavy lambs offloaded them as prices started to increase. High grain costs and minimal forage mass across most of the country has made it increasingly difficult to grow stock currently in the light or trade weight ranges to heavier weights. Since the beginning of April, the national heavy lamb indicator has gone up an amazing 225c/kg cwt, a 37% or $67.5/head increase for a 30kg cwt lamb in just four months.
Lamb slaughter declined considerably since the beginning of July.
As highlighted in a recent Prices and Markets article, the current drought conditions have delayed the entry of new season lambs. Many producers are reportedly struggling to achieve the usual weight gains required for new season lambs to be market-ready, to reach the trade or heavy weight ranges.
Despite increases in the last week, 31% fewer new season lambs have been sold through MLA reported saleyards in July and August in 2018 compared to last year.