Coronavirus crisis: MLA introduces new livestock indicators

Zach RelphCountryman
MLA has instead been providing “CV19 national sheep and cattle market price indicators”.
Camera IconMLA has instead been providing “CV19 national sheep and cattle market price indicators”. Credit: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Meat and Livestock Australia has suspended updating its national sheep and cattle market indicators, with market officers set to be absent from weekly saleyard auctions for at least three weeks.

MLA livestock market officers — who collect livestock data across Australia’s saleyards — started working from home last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The officers are completing auction reports remotely and are not scheduled to return to the saleyards until April 2.

MLA has told farmers and livestock agents that market reports will be completed later than usual.

The reports will not include visually assessed animal characteristics including fat and muscle score and estimated carcase weights.

Under the decision, the peak national livestock body will also not update some of its cattle and sheep indicators.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator and Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator are among those suspended.

MLA has instead been providing “CV19 national sheep and cattle market price indicators”.

For cattle producers, it provides modified versions of the feeder steer, medium cow, medium steer, heavy steer, vealer steer and yearling steer indicators.

MLA is also releasing three “new unique indicators” on processor lambs, re-stocker lambs and mutton for the sheep market.

The three indicators use average state-level monthly estimates of carcase prices calculated from the past five years.

In a statement, MLA said the decision was made to “safeguard the health and wellbeing of our people, their families, our stakeholders, visitors and contractors”.

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