LAMB and sheep slaughter figures have exceeded corresponding 2021 weekly rates in the past week as processor capacity increases.
Meat & Livestock Australia said Australia’s national weekly lamb slaughter is now above 2021 levels and weekly sheep slaughter has risen above 100,000 for the first time this year.
Processor capacity reductions due to COVID-19 isolation protocols are easing, MLA said.
In the first five weeks of 2022, national slaughter numbers were subdued as processors’ workforces were decimated by mandatory isolation periods for close contacts and positive cases of COVID-19.
MLA said in the first five weeks of 2022, 288,000 fewer lambs were processed compared to the start of 2021.This week, 374,000 lambs were slaughtered, 9 percent above the corresponding week in 2021. This highlights that COVID-19-related disruptions to the supply chain have been minimised, MLA said.
MLA said the reduced capacity of processors corresponded to the peak lamb turn-off times of Spring and Summer, which had likely prolonged the Spring/Summer influx of lambs, with 2021 lambs still expected to hit the market in March and April.
The uplift in processor capacity provides strong demand factors which may help push prices up in the short-term, MLA said.
“However, there may be some impact on producer prices if there is an oversupply of lambs onto the market in late Summer and early Autumn.“
MLA said cattle slaughter for the first five weeks of 2022 was 92,000 head below 2021 levels. However, in the past week, national cattle slaughter rose an astonishing 39pc to 91,938 head.
“This is the first time national cattle slaughter has exceeded 90,000 head for 2022.
“At this level, cattle slaughter is 8pc below 2021 levels.”