Livestock markets are in for a challenging ride until spring rains brings relief.
Recent weeks have seen the livestock industry navigating through a turbulent period, with the hope that a change in spring weather patterns will breathe confidence back into the minds of producers.
The market dynamics have been far from steady, reflecting the uncertainties faced by those in the livestock sector.
Notably, heavy lamb prices have found some stability, offering a glimmer of hope, but trade lambs have taken a hit, with prices dropping by as much as $10 a head.
Meanwhile, cow and bullock prices have witnessed a sharp correction, declining by 30-50 cents a kilogram carcase weight in just 10 days.
For instance, at the Wagga Wagga, NSW, livestock market on Monday, bullock prices averaged only 222c/kg, while cows over 600kg averaged 160c/kg.
These price fluctuations have added to the market's instability, leading some producers to temporarily skip market sales as a form of protest.
However, this has resulted in abattoirs facing a backlog of stock as they seize the opportunity to buy at lower prices.
This yo-yo cycle in the livestock market doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon.
The oversupply of cattle, sheep and lambs being sold due to unfavourable weather conditions will likely continue unless spring brings the much-needed finishing rain or at least a positive forecast.
Lamb slaughter rates are also on the rise, further complicating the situation.
Processors are grappling with two short working weeks due to public holidays.
Victoria observes a break for the AFL grand final on Friday, while NSW celebrates Labour Day on Monday.
These public holidays have a significant impact on price outcomes, particularly in Victoria, where processors are faced with four days of managing stock at abattoirs.
Among all the livestock, sheep have borne the brunt of severe discounting.
Feedback from the industry suggests that many processors are heavily booked with sheep, making it unlikely to see any immediate price improvements.
On the demand side, domestic lamb sales in Victoria are entering a challenging week coinciding with the AFL public holiday.
Producers and industry participants are eagerly awaiting the change in weather patterns this spring, hoping for a shift in market dynamics that can bring stability and confidence back to the industry.
At Bendigo, processors were very active for heavy, new-season lambs showing freshness, signifying a shift away from the offering of heavy, old lambs.
Heavy, young lambs were unchanged to a few dollars dearer, recording an average of 480c/kg.
Young trade lambs sold to softer trends, with 22-26kg lambs ranging from $118-$135, recording an average of 510c/kg.