Robust feeder prices and tight supply continue to underpin cattle prices in Victoria, agents and analysts say, but it's unclear how long the record results will continue.
Unlike the lamb equivalent, the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) is yet to experience a correction and remains 56 per cent higher than year-ago levels.
The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI), however, is down 17pc on year-ago levels, despite some slight recent rises attributed to the early spring flush.
Mecardo managing director Robert Herrmann said strong cattle prices were due to the breaking of drought in northern Australian as well as strong demand and tight supply for finished cattle.
"I think we will see a modest correction for cattle as we go into spring because it's unreasonable to think we can maintain these record prices while consumer confidence is impacted by the pandemic," Mr Herrmann said.
"Lamb numbers have held up pretty well but it's high-end restaurant trade which has had an impact on high value lamb cuts ... a year after the market was at its peak."
The EYCI is 784.5 cents a kilogram carcase weight, up from 504c/kg cwt 12 months ago, while the ESTLI is down 681c/kg cwt from 803c/kg on year-ago levels, but up 40c/kg week-on-week.
"The lamb market has rarely traded above $6 in its history so while the market is back, prices are still attractive for producers to continue to build their prime lamb businesses," Mr Herrmann said.
Lanyon's Stock and Station Agents director Warren Clark, Hamilton, said lamb prices would unlikely recover until trade with international partners resumed.
"All of the world eats beef so there's always going to be demand for it, whereas lamb is a specialist product overseas," Mr Clark said.
"Our lamb market is dominated by exporters whereas five to eight years ago supermarkets dominated the industry so until our borders reopen, we're unlikely to see a rise in lamb prices."
Farmers and agents across the state are reporting promising lamb survival rates this year, on the back of a mild winter and sufficient rain.
"We're only about 10 weeks away from our peak season and we've had good percentages as far as lambing is concerned so our lambs are going to have plenty of weight," Mr Clark said.
"While lamb prices have eased recently, we had lambs making over $10 a kilogram and mutton selling well over $7 and that wasn't sustainable for our industry so we believe prices are good considering the situation we're in."
TB White & Sons director Leo White, Ballarat, said cattle would hold their value as long as northern restockers maintained their demand.
"We expect cattle will come off the boil in late October and a lot of prime cattle out of NSW will definitely cheapen the market," Mr White said.
"Traditionally cattle do get cheaper and we have to realise they're not going to be at record levels forever."
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