HAMILTON’S saleyard has sold nearly half a million sheep and lambs in less than two months in an indication of the early dry season and quick spring lamb turn-off that occurred across southern Australia this year.
Hamilton and Regional Livestock Exchange manager Chris Dahlenburg said since October 29, 480,000 sheep and lambs were sold through the centre, an increase of about 150,000 on the same period last year.
“It will come back to bite us after Christmas, because I’m guessing it won’t be as busy in January next year as it was in January this year.
“We’ve sold a lot of the stock that we would normally sell in January, but sheep and lambs have still sold extremely well.”
National lamb yardings increased 3pc
MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service said national lamb yardings increased three percent year-on-year, to around 9.9 million head.
“November 2014 saw lamb turnoff hit the highest point for the year, at 951,693 head, driven by Victorian yardings.
“Eastern states average weekly lamb slaughter was 4pc higher year-on-year, at 361,353 head,” the NLRS said.
The largest lamb kill in a month for the year was in September at 413,197 head.
The NLRS said national young lamb supply was 17pc higher year-on-year, at around 2.7 million head.
“The divide between young and old lamb classes became greater during winter as earlier and sustained higher young lamb turnoff was recorded.
“Despite conditions deteriorating, restocker lamb purchases in Victoria ramped up in November,” the NLRS said.
The service said store lamb buyers were out in force in 2014 securing any lambs suitable to go onto failed crops or stubble. It is expected that these lamb will filter back through the system early next year.
National lamb prices still managed to climb
But although supply showed no signs of tightening throughout the year, national lamb prices managed to climb.
“The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) tracked well above 2013 levels, averaging 513¢/kg cwt during 2014.”
Reflecting the confidence in forward lamb prices, the national restocker lamb indicator was 31pc higher this year, on 479¢/kg cwt, while Merino lambs gained 46pc, to 449¢/kg cwt.
The light lamb indicator increased 28pc, to 467¢/kg cwt, while the national trade lamb indicator improved 23pc, to 512¢/kg cwt, the NLRS said. Heavy lambs were 21pc higher on 523¢/kg cwt.
The NLRS said national sheep supply was 16pc higher year-on-year, at close to 4.6 million head, as dry conditions throughout the year saw sustained high saleyard turnoff and kill levels.
“February and March of this year were the highest turnoff months, with over 520,000 head yarded.
“Eastern states average weekly mutton slaughter was 3pc higher year-on-year, at 149,918 head.”
The largest sheep kill was in February
The NLRS said early February was the largest sheep kill for the year, with 196,088 head processed that week, correlating with the higher supply months of the year.
“Although supply was higher, global demand was strong, with processors particularly dominant across the saleyards, as there was little restocker interest due to the dry conditions.
“The mutton indicator responded, increasing 56pc year-on-year, to average 311¢/kg cwt.”
Hottest spring on record
The NLRS said following the hottest spring on record, summer 2013-14 was warmer than average for Australia and coinciding with this was another season of ‘below average’ rainfall for the eastern states.
“Autumn was no exception from the string of warm seasons, influencing turnoff; however, the warm conditions coupled with some timely late season rain did help sowing activities.
“A very dry winter and spring persisted across the majority of the eastern states, bringing ‘above average’ temperatures too,” the service said.
“Given the seasonal conditions over the year, it is not surprising that turn-off in 2014 will be higher year-on-year.”
Source: MLA, NLRS