More than 300,000 WA sheep, lambs flock eastward

Bob Garnant and Zach RelphCountryman
At October’s end, 304,837 sheep and lambs had been transferred east through the Ceduna checkpoint from WA, new data shows.
Camera IconAt October’s end, 304,837 sheep and lambs had been transferred east through the Ceduna checkpoint from WA, new data shows. Credit: Danella Bevis

WA sheep and lambs continue to flock over the border into South Australia as farmers capitalise on favourable prices, with more than 300,000 head snapped up by Eastern States’ buyers.

At October’s end, 304,837 sheep and lambs had been transferred east through the Ceduna checkpoint from WA, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development data show.

The figures represent a 247 per cent spike year-on-year on sheep and lamb movements across the State border into South Australia from January 1 to October 31, and a 16 per cent increase on 2017 levels.

Of the 304,837 head sent, lambs have accounted for 68 per cent of transfers.

According to Countryman sources, strong prices of between $110 to $145 a head for store lambs are driving the increase in east-bound movements.

The prices reportedly offered are up to $15 per head more than what has been available in WA.

Mid West sheep producer Chris Patmore is among the State’s farmers electing to sell sheep and lambs to the east coast on the back of the surging demand.

Camera IconCredit: John Henderson

Mr Patmore, who is facing extreme dry conditions with summer months yet to contend with, said he had sold to Victorian buyers.

“WA producers are fortunate to be enjoying competitive bidding from Victoria on our surplus sheep,” he said.

“In a first, because of the dry season, I sold off 500 Merino cross Border Leicester wether lambs earlier this year, which I normally hold until six months of age and sell to the live export trade.

“We also sold 900 excess first cross 11/2-year-old maiden ewes through Auction Plus to Victoria which made $192 a head.

“Another 400 head of maiden ewe sold to a WA Busselton account for $202 a head and these prices have been the highest values I have ever received.”

Mr Patmore said he had enough feed to get through the anticipated dry summer, with the breeding stock on hand.

At the Livestock Adviser Updates forum this month, Elders Cranbrook agent Clark Skinner tipped east-bound sheep and lambs from WA to rise once rain alleviated the Eastern States.

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