Lamb and mutton market not rattled by coronavirus as prices keep rising

Restockers and rain add fuel to red hot lamb and mutton market

Sheep
RESTOCKER RUSH: Strong rain-fuelled demand from restockers has help continue the recent surge in saleyard lamb and sheep prices.

RESTOCKER RUSH: Strong rain-fuelled demand from restockers has help continue the recent surge in saleyard lamb and sheep prices.

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Benchmark lamb and mutton price indicators have kept rising this week after welcome rain across wide areas of NSW and Queensland.

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Lamb and mutton sheep prices have kept rattling skywards on the back of widespread rain with the benchmark Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator climbing another 30 cents in the past week to 853c a kilogram dressed.

The Eastern States Restocker Lamb Indicator has zoomed up 62c during the same time to a record 967c as fatteners and restockers jump into the market.

Their red-hot demand has blown away any short-term impact of China's outbreak of coronavirus (now named Covid-19) on prices.

Angus Gidley-Baird, Rabobank's senior animal protein analyst, said the rain-driven restocker demand and low sheep numbers had combined to put a foundation under higher saleyard prices.

He said it was still unclear what impact Covid-19 would have on China's sheepmeat demand in either the short or long term.

Mr Gidley-Baird said he had heard reports from NZ, which relies heavily on the Chinese market, that processors were being told to now back off on shipments.

Life in China had been brought to almost a standstill by the virus outbreak with empty streets, restaurants and shops which will cause meat imports to pile up in cold stores.

If Covid-19 had a long-term impact on China's economy its consumers may change their buying habits to cheaper food choices but that was still unknown, he said.

"It's a bit of a moving feast at the moment."

AuctionsPlus operations manager, Tom Rookyard, said lamb fatteners were moving early to secure numbers because so many sheep had already been sold and many ewes hadn't been joined because of the drought.

Restockers paid up to $10 a kg carcase weight at Ballarat on Tuesday for light lambs with prices generally up by $5 to $20 a head.

The lamb yarding dropped by almost 2000 head to 17,631 with heavy lambs selling to $301.

Lightweight 1 and 2 score lambs, 12 to 18kg, sold from $115 to $173 to average 933c a kg.

Trade lambs, 18 to 22kg, sold from $167 to $210 to average around 890c.

Mutton numbers increased with 14,100 yarded but prices rose by between $15 to $30, pushed along by strong demand from export processors.

Heavy sheep, 24 to 30kg, sold from $153 to $235 and over 30kg from $212 to $290.

Widespread rain clipped the yarding at Forbes on Tuesday by 5210 head to 19,090 including 16,090 lambs.

Competition from restockers lifted prices with store lambs selling from $100 to $199 ahead.

Trade weights were $12 to $15 dearer, ranging from $171 to $228.

Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs also ignited bidding and lifted by $20 with extra heavyweights fetching from $242 to $305.

Mutton prices also lifted with Merino ewes selling from $124 to $245 and crossbred ewes from $120 to $254 while Dorper ews made up to $240.

Mutton prices surged at Bendigo on Monday with the price hike led by strong processor interest from NSW where rain has reduced yardings.

Price lifted by $10 to $40 head with big crossbred ewes selling to $280 and averaging close to $250 a head.

Heavy Merino ewes sold to $240 and wethers to $230. Good runs of mutton in a yarding of 8000 were estimated to have cost processors from 650c to 720c a kg.

Lamb numbers increased by 1000 to 19,000 with the offering dominated by heavy grain- and pellet-finished pens.

Supplies of good quality trade weight lambs, around 21 to 24kg dressed, were limited.

Overall prices for crossbred lambs were similar to week-ago levels.

Merino lambs were dearer with lightweights in demand to fill MK (muslim kill) and restocking orders.

Processors paid $130 to $170 a head to fill MK orders.

The heaviest lambs sold to $290 with most of the extra heavy exports over 30kg making from $235 to $280.

Numbers crashed at Dubbo on Monday after the region received up to 100mm of rain.

Only 4020 lambs (down 10,585 on the previous sale) were offered and processors and restockers had to pay dearly for their purchases.

Lightweight lambs rose by up to $18 with 12kg to 18kg 2 scores selling from $115 to $168.

Trade lambs were $10 to $14 dearer with new-season lambs selling from $160 to $200 while the trade weight old lambs sold from $169 to $205 to average from 865c to 895c.

Heavy weight lambs were $10 dearer with the over 24kg 4 scores selling from $210 to $274.

Restocker lambs were $12 dearer selling from $75 to $130.

Heavier weight lambs topped at $245 a the South Australian Livestock Exchange sale at Dublin on Tuesday.

Restorers were in action for the lighter lambs in the yarding of 6000 lambs and 1500 sheep.

A small selection of Border-Merino first cross ewe lambs met solid competition from restockers but eventually sold to the trade from $185 to $230.

Light trade weights lambs sold from $132 to $156, medium weights received from $145 to $178 with heavy weights making from $182 to $196.

Lamb prices lifted by $6 to $12 a head at SA's Naracoorte sale on Tuesday where agents yarded 4988 lambs and 1683 sheep.

Heavy lambs returned from 850c to 880c and the trade selection from 880c to 920c.

Light lambs to the trade ranged from $95 to $156 with the few light weight trade 2 and 3 score types selling to $168 a head.

The story Lamb and mutton market not rattled by coronavirus as prices keep rising first appeared on Farm Online.

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