Livestock market review – northern South Australia
As we approach winter, Elders livestock sales manager (northern) Damien Webb takes a look back on the past year and how the livestock markets have been affected by seasonal changes, demand and of course Covid.
The northern parts of South Australia generally remain dry, with very minimal summer rain, after one of the mildest summers in recent memory. Spring and early summer rains in the pastoral areas have enabled our northern pastoralists to retain stock, and in some cases, buy in stock, which have been predominantly from Western Australia.
It’s all about the rain
Pastoralists in the north-west have been able to retain 70 to 80 per cent of their usual breeding numbers thanks to some late rains in 2020, after a couple of very dry years.
The north-east pastoral area received some better rains after three to four years of drought. Most graziers in the area are probably running more 20 to 50 per cent of their historical breeding numbers, depending on the longevity of the drought.
Many parts in the north of the state are yet to see two inches of rain for the year, so the official break to the season is keenly awaited.
The excellent southern and eastern rains throughout 2020 created numerous restocking and trading opportunities. Thankfully these areas were able to capitalise on the surplus stock coming out of Western Australia as a result of their own dry season, where the lack of surface water had a major impact on the sell-off. In excess of two million sheep have crossed the Western Australian border heading east since the initial sell-off in late 2019.
Impact on the mutton market
The good seasons in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and southern Queensland have seen many ewes (in particular) retained and sourced.
This has resulted in supply issues on the mutton meat market. This lower supply of mutton combined with strong domestic and overseas demand – China in particular – has seen mutton prices increase to historically high levels, generally ranging from mid $6.00 levels up to as high as mid $7.00
At the same time, while the lamb market saw hooks prices in the low $6.00/kg in the spring (mainly due to the impact of Covid), the new year has seen hooks prices in excess of $7.00/kg. Mostly they were in the mid-to-high $7.00 /kg price range, with peak pricing of slightly better than $8.00/kg being achieved during March.
Forward pricing is currently available for the late autumn /winter months in the low to high $8.00 range.
Elders can also assist with livestock funding and protecting your investment while they are in transit.
For expert advice on maximising the return on your flock, speak to your local Elders livestock production advisor.