Sheep and lamb markets across Australia finally got back into their normal routine this week, after the last six weeks of holiday disruptions and ad-hoc January trading. Larger numbers were felt through most major saleyards, with numbers exclusively offered through AuctionsPlus for the past week falling just short of 125,00 head – up 36% on the previous week.
While the influx of lambs through the physical saleyards was matched by robust demand, buyers continued to fight very hard for anything light, or young with breeding potential. Of note this week was an initial decline for online clearance rates on Tuesday, as several of the larger saleyards, including at Ballarat, Forbes, South Australia Livestock Exchange, and Naracoorte attracted the immediate interest of buyers. However, AuctionsPlus clearance rates increased steadily after the closure of the Tuesday sale, as buyers turned to the online catalogues to fill orders. One feature of the AuctionsPlus system is that transactions may be completed well after the closure of the listed auction – in some instances for several days, as both buyers and sellers revise their expectations to finalise transactions.
With seasonal conditions continuing to look favourable into February, as patchy storms in recent weeks continue to surge across the eastern states, the quality and weight of lambs being offered has been outstanding. Adding to the excellent quality has been the welcome absence of extended heat waves throughout summer – especially compared to the same period last year. As such, any decision pressure to sell lambs in recent weeks has been focused upon finish, quality, and cash flow, as opposed to feed and water.
First cross ewe lamb prices remained robust this week, averaging $267/head - up $37/head on the previous week, with 11,482 head exclusively offered. However, the clearance rate for this category finished the week at 57% - as the reserves set from vendors remained beyond the willingness of many buyers.
Merino ewe lambs registered an 86% clearance rate for the week, averaging $192/head - a reflection of the relative scarcity of available lines (4,436 head) and the continued desire to attain young breeders. Interestingly, SIL Merino ewes, with 20,480 head offered for the week, only registered a 49% clearance rate - averaging $241/head, back $29/head on last week. Further analysis showed that age discrimination is well and truly at work, with the younger lines in hot demand, while older, heavier lines were seeing a wider bid-offer spread.
Note – all prices reported below are as at the close of reporting of 5pm, Thursday 4th February.
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