Sheep update - late May 2022 - Elders Rural Services

Sheep update – late May 2022

At a glance

  • Lamb prices begin to balance out as supply dries up heading into winter.
  • Parts of South Australia remain unseasonably dry, hoping for rain in early June.

Market fundamentals

National trade lamb prices increased slightly in May, beginning a plateau after a sustained decline since February. The heightened level of supply stemming from COVID disruptions has balanced out as we reach a seasonal low point in lamb supply.

At state level, South Australia and Queensland recorded increases of 10 per cent (pc) and 7 pc respectively. In contrast, Tasmania corrected the previous months increase, declining 13 pc.

Mutton prices continued to increase in May, up three per cent driven by tight supply.

The Elders Weather outlook forecasts multiple cold fronts across southern and eastern Australia from 6 to 10 and 17 to 21 June. Rain events from the tropics have the potential to move south and generate rain from the 1 to 8 June. The cold fronts are expected to bring widespread rain. In Western Australia (WA), the strongest cold fronts will start from 9 to 13 and again from 17 to 21 June.

Graph showing national trade lamb indicator price

From the field

“Rain in May has improved season conditions however most regions could do with more in the coming weeks. Frost and cooler temperatures resulted in stagnated pasture growth over past month as we head into winter.”

“Sheep and lamb prices were more volatile in May as varying levels of supply and demand influenced the market. Store sheep, at current prices, represent a buying opportunity particularly for farming operations with a longer-term view.” – Matt Tinkler, Elders Livestock Manager, Victoria and Riverina.

“While the season remains dry throughout the mid-north and Yorke Peninsula, the Eyre Peninsula in general has had good rains to start their seeding programs.”

“The north-west pastoral region continues to look very good given the summer rains, with feed and water in good supply, and in many places in abundance. The north-east pastoral is having a very good season out towards the New South Wales boarder. The Yunta and Hawker areas are just hanging in.

“We saw some stabilisation in the lamb job earlier this month, numbers have dried up significantly as they generally do this time of the year. The extreme shortage of mutton saw grid prices lift by 50c+ over the past couple of weeks.” – Damien Webb, Elders Livestock Manager, northern South Australia.

“The south of the state, inclusive of the Mallee and south-east regions, are still awaiting a proper seasonal break that will put some serious moisture into the soil profile. It’s been a subdued start with generally just enough rain to get things started.”

“Lambs are dwindling in the south on what has been a long selling season. The extended dry summer exhausted lamb numbers and the cost of feeding deterred investment in lambs for fattening.

“Mutton numbers are at a what is historically a period of short supply, so with limited numbers the mutton prices have recently had a steady rise as the supply and demand effect comes into play for the winter period.”- Laryn Gogel, Elders Livestock Manager, southern South Australia.

“The lamb market is slowly turning in terms of price, which is largely the result of tighter supply this time of year.”

“Processors have shown some interest around high $7 to $8/kg cwt, which is a good sign for future spring contract prices. Overall, confidence in the season remains high heading into winter.” – Nik Hannaford, Elders Livestock Manager, New South Wales.

Market indicators

Table showing state indicator prices for sheep and lambs.

Note: States without sufficient data for the current month or without data for a specific stock category will not appear in the table.

Sources: Price data reproduced courtesy of Meat & Livestock Australia Limited.

The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.

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