Spring lamb sales open $50 dearer than predicted

The Southern Farmer
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DEARER: Prices for the first of the spring lamb sales started $30-$50 dearer than predicted.

LAMB prices have smashed records across the state – and it may just be the saving grace for farmers doing it tough in New South Wales.

Livestock agent Alex Collins works with McKean McGregor out of Bendigo, servicing southern Victoria and into New South Wales.

Although he was extremely sympathetic to those in drought affected areas, Mr Collins said an “approaching average” season in Victoria might mean sustained prices for interstate store stock.

“Victoria is having an ok season, so they’ll be able to keep demand for (interstate) store stock reasonably strong – that could work out well for those in New South,” he said.

The first of the spring lamb sales was brought forward by a month due to seasonal conditions, kicking off in Hay on August 10 where pens “sold above expectation”, Mr Collins said.

Some 15,000 sheep were penned for the sale, with prices $30 – $50 dearer than predicted.

Interstate competition drove demand, with the top price of $202 paid for 482 Dohne Merino ewes, May/June 2017 drop and November shorn.

Mr Collins said it was a promising start to the season.

“There’s been an increase of store stock on the market through NSW, and we’ve seen early weaning – with a lot of lambs on the market, both online and physical markets – there’s certainly been an increase in numbers coming south where the conditions are better,” he said.

Mr Collins predicts more new season lambs would find themselves on the market this month, saying “I think we will be well rewarded for them due to the lack of prime lambs”.

“The physical market and over the hooks is very strong – it might just soften a little bit due to numbers over the next few weeks, but it’s still going to be at high levels,” he said.

Cattle sales are held each Tuesday out of Bendigo, with the mid-August market seeing numbers remain similar to recent weeks.

Heavy steers were in short supply and sold to a top of $2.80 per kilo.

Medium to heavy steers were also in shorter supply, selling to $3.10 – firm to slightly dearer on previous markets.

A good sized run of vealers sold well to a top price of $3.35.

“While things remain so dry, and with hay and grain prices at record levels, there’s going to be real pressure on the cattle market until something changes,” Mr Collins said.

“Southern Victoria is starting to dry out and grow a bit of grass now – but until we see a rain in the north, cattle prices will probably stay depressed for the time being.

“Light store stock are good value for anyone that can handle them.”

Mr Collins predicts cattle will follow a similar trend to the lamb market, saying heavy prime stock would continue to sell at acceptable levels but that “store stock is hard enough to shift”.

More farming news and stories can be read in the September, 2018 print edition of The Southern Farmer or click here to access digital editions.