Lamb price flat, season looms

Rob KellyCountryman

The WA lamb market remained flat heading into the end of last week with prices relatively unchanged.

Hogget and mutton prices continued to find pressure, though.

Crossbred lambs are now around $6.80 with Merinos trading at a 50¢ discount. There is also interest from feedlots as new season lambs become available.

Beaufort River Meats lowered its bid by 10¢ for hoggets and muttons putting some pressure on those markets.

The east coast sheep and lamb market was under a bit more pressure last week.

Prices were lowered for lambs and mutton by buyers in South Australia, Victoria and NSW.

The widening spread between Victoria and NSW is very close to covering the cost of freight and NSW buyers are starting to source animals out of Victoria as a result.

Overall, we are seeing crossbred lambs about $7.50, Merinos $7.10 and hogget and mutton at $6.

For goats, the market was well supported last week.

Thomas Foods International hiked its bid in SA by 20¢ to $10/kg.

In Queensland, Western Meat Exporters — Australia’s biggest goat processor — increased by the same amount to $9.60.

In WA, NSW and Victoria prices were left unchanged.

The cattle market has been well supported.

There were some increased prices, notably Oakey Beef Exports raised its Queensland processor grids by 35¢-75¢ on most animals.

The spring flush in the south east of Australia would normally keep pressure on Victorian prices.

But northern buyers are coming further south given the lack of supply in their normal catchment so may push those markets higher. Otherwise, grids have been stable.

Live export markets remain in the $2.80 to $3 range for steers and $2.30-$2.50 range for heifers out of Queensland.

Internationally, African swine fever remains the major factor.

China continues to increase protein imports.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board announced this week that China is ready to start imports of UK beef by the end of the year.

This is following a ban that has lasted more than 20 years following the UK’s mad cow disease outbreak.

This opening up of the markets raises the opportunity for other nations to get access to a market they might not have otherwise been able to and will make competition in them stronger in future.

Rob Kelly is the founder and managing director of LIVEstock Pricing, a free service with the latest sheep, cattle and goat price grids in one easy-to-use app.

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