Sheep update - March 2024


The latest insights and information on the Australian sheep market as of March 2024.

Market fundamentals

National trade lamb prices softened by around 7 per cent (pc) in February. At a state level, prices followed this trend, recording declines of between 4 and 27 pc. The exception was in Queensland where an uptick of 2 pc was recorded. The national trade lamb indicator is still 12 pc down from the same time last year.

National trade lamb prices softened again in February.

National mutton prices stabilised in February, with a small increase of 3 pc. At state level, larger upticks were recorded. In Queensland, the indicator is up 31 pc from the month prior, 9 pc up in Tasmania and up 7 pc in Victoria.   

National mutton prices stabilised in February.

Read on for local conditions and commentary from Elders Livestock Managers. For more livestock market analysis, visit our new Livestock Now page.

From the field

“Things remain dry in the north and west of the state, and these continued dry conditions and no significant rainfall forecast in the near future will see numbers of livestock for sale continue to flow.

“The northwest pastoral areas are seeing significant annual sell-offs of their off-shears sheep, with plenty of mutton moving to processors, while many store sheep have made their way up in to the western division of NSW, where there has been some good summer rain and the production of quality feed.

“Kill space for sheep and lambs is limited into southern and eastern processors given the large sell-off taking place, with space being booked without upfront pricing.

“The lamb job is floating either side of $6 per kg at the moment, depending on breed, weight and quality, whilst the mutton job is generally in the low-moderate $2 per kg range, with the exception of some specific criteria whereby $2.80 to $3.00 per kg lwt may be achieved.” - Damien Webb, State Livestock Manager, northern South Australia.

“It has been nothing too exciting on the sheep and lamb front. Over the last four weeks, we've watched the journey of pricing going in all the wrong directions, so it's certainly softer on the mutton and the lamb fronts.

“It’s been a slower month for all livestock commodities really, with three short weeks for the month of March, which means our processing side slows right down.

“But ultimately, I am hoping we are probably at the lowest end of our month pricing, with Easter out of the way I reckon we may see a rise on the back of the demise of the short weeks.

“In terms of lambs, we're just surrounded by a few numbers because of the dry, and that's the element of what is out in the paddock at the moment. 

“So, an opening rain a few weeks down the track will probably help us see a few more positive signs in the lamb market too.” - Laryn Gogel, State Livestock Manager, southern South Australia.

“The sheep job has been sort of solid in the early part of the month, and then as the month has gone on, it has dipped a bit, mainly because it has been difficult actually trying to get the livestock out of Tasmania.

“We have been held up with shipping, and getting trailers in and out, and then back in, so that has created a bit of a funnel, and a truck jam.

“Prices were going along nicely until the last week or two, when we basically couldn’t get the sheep out of the state in quick time. So that has had an effect there. 

“Obviously season wise, that is having an effect as well with numbers coming forward, and people trying to get rid of them, and they can’t, so basically, it is putting on a bit of downward pressure.

“The lamb job has been exactly the same, once again, trying to get livestock out of the state has been the number one priority and pricing has been secondary, but the lamb job has pulled back as well. We have been looking at about $5.80 to $6.00 per kg.

“The season has dictated what the livestock job is doing, as it so often can. We have just had some nice rain through the best part of the northern half of the state, and we really need a bit  more to follow that up pretty quickly.” - Gavin Coombe, State Livestock Manager, Tasmania.

Market Indicators

Table contains lamb and mutton price comparisons.

Note: States without sufficient data for the current month or without data for a specific stock category will not appear in the table.

Sources: Price data reproduced courtesy of Meat & Livestock Australia Limited.

The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.

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