February 12, 2013
Hopes are high for a turn around in the lamb market this year. Ian Geddes and Company agent, Geoff McCallum, Deniliquin, said 2012 wasn’t kind to his district, however, a good season could lead to a bounce in the market. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a more traditional autumn and winter here,” Mr McCallum said. “If we get a reasonable year I think the lamb market will hold current prices, if not get a little bit higher.” Mr McCallum expected sheep prices to hold firm, but said they could rise if supply tightened. “If we get a good season the sheep and lamb job will have a bit of bounce, but not like what we saw in spring 2011.” He said the lamb market improved in the later part of 2012, however, “you don’t see a real bounce until the end of February”. “Everybody’s waiting for a break in conditions and if that comes you’re up and firing.” Mr McCallum said last year was a reality check, due to prices retreating from the highs of 2011. “It was a case of supply and demand, with a tight season at times. “On the flip side – was it realistic to expect 2011 prices to continue?” Landmark Goulburn agent Charlie Croker said freeing up the export market would help prices this year. “Hopefully the market will pick up in the next six months, but it is disappointing to see how it is now when it has been so good previously.” Mr Croker said a return to $90 to $100 for young lambs would herald the return to a reasonable market. “I think that will happen, and the market will come back, but not in the near future. “It’s always up and down – we just have to hang in there. “Everybody who is experienced in the sheep game understands it will fluctuate a lot.” The National Livestock Report-ing Service (NLRS) figures indicate restocker lamb, Merino lamb and light lamb prices were all well up on the five-year average in early 2012. Restocker lamb prices topped the five-year average by 27 per cent, however, were 88 cents a kilogram cheaper than 2011. Merino lamb and light lamb prices were both 26pc above the five-year average, however, were 50c/kg and 59c/kg below 2011 prices. The same figures for spring 2012 were quite different. Restocker lambs sold 14pc cheaper than the five-year average and 192c/kg cheaper than at the same time in 2011. Merino lambs sold 163c/kg cheaper than the same time in 2011 and light lambs were back 164c/kg. Lamb supply suffered the biggest blow in autumn 2012 when it was 15pc lower year-on-year, in reaction to price falls. At Walcha in the State’s north, Elders Walcha manager Nick Hall said both sheep and cattle could be hard to find in autumn this year. He said it would be a case of supply and demand, with the shortage lifting prices. “We need a wet week to turn the market around,” Mr Hall said. “There will be a premium for finished lambs, as the number about will be limited. “Store lambs are very hard to sell, and most of the abattoirs have got enough numbers for most of January, but after that we could see the price improve with rainfall into the autumn and a good seasonal base.” He hoped cyclone activity in northern Australia would lead to rain in northern NSW. “There’s not much in the short term – the next fortnight – but hopefully we will get some good rain in February and March. Just an inch or two won’t do any good.” Mr Hall said the lamb market was quite strong right through 2012, and export markets for both sheep and cattle were good.