Late start to WA lamb season

26 Jul, 2000 03:02 PM

THE supply of new season sucker lambs is likely to be down on last year due to a late break and subsequent lack of feed. Early indications of throughput at Midland highlight the difficulty producers have had in turning off early drafts of lambs. While, in a normal year, the supply of sucker lambs would have been starting to fill buyers' books, supply so far had been erratic. Agents expect the supply to remain variable in the short term at least as producers struggle to provide the usual late winter/spring avalanche of lambs, that usually begins in August. Elders auctioneer Peter Trezise said many Wheatbelt sheep did not have enough milk for their lambs, and those lambs not making the first draft would end up being shorn and weaned before leaving the farm. Quality could also suffer. He said lamb prices at Midland had varied at highs of $35 and $45 at two recent sales up to last week. Wesfarmers Dalgety store and export sheep officer Ron Summers said, up until last week, there had only been two lines of this season's lambs for sale at Midland whereas there would have been 10 lines for sale the same time last year. "Lambs that come in August will now arrive in early September and October," he said. Mr Summers said lambs not in the first draft would probably be shorn and put on to stubble. "I would say we are a good six weeks behind last year," he said. "A lot of the lambs have gone dry." He said, while there was a short supply, the market would hold well and later ease when numbers increased, as was the case in the normal supply and demand situation. "I think the past couple of weeks (of rain) have made a difference," Mr Summers said. He advised farmers to separate "dry" and "wet" ewes and send them to Midland where new mutton shorn ewes had been recently reaching highs of $25 a head. WAMMCO livestock buyer Wayne Radford said, despite the odd line of lambs coming through, the season was at least a month behind. He said, until there was a continuity of supply, supermarkets would not change over to new season lamb. Until then, there would be not be a true indication of the season's lamb prices.


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