Wethers hit $140 in seller's market

15 Jul, 2010 10:01 AM

IT'S a sellers market in the sheep industry at the moment, with producers being paid up to $140 a head for wethers on-farm.

Saleyard prices have also remained buoyant, sitting at $105-$120 a head for shipping wethers and $122-$130 for heavy crossbred lambs for the past few weeks.

Wellard Middle East livestock trading manager Garry Robinson said despite the State's decimated sheep numbers supply had not been as difficult as they had expected for this time of year, but they were willing to pay to secure the sheep they needed.

"We always expect a peak in prices at this time of year as normally it is the worst time of year for supply," Mr Robinson said.

"That coupled with strong competition from exporters and processors to fill orders for Ramadan has caused a peak in prices.

"We expect it will come off in the next month or two.

"Pricing at the moment is relative to weight and high prices paid for sheep are also indicative that they are in full wool, which is common at this time of year."

Mr Robinson said Wellard had been paying good prices, $140 a head or $100-$105 a head bare-shorn, but prices were consistent with the same period last year.

He said the sheep in highest demand were heavy wethers, 52kg and above.

"To achieve maximum pricing, that's what producers should be aiming at," he said.

"Prices are consistent with what we feel is the ceiling on what the market can take at the moment."

Supply has been better than expected according to Mr Robinson, which has made things easier when putting together shipments.

He said Wellard had been sourcing sheep in the saleyards and on-farm.

There had also been a reasonable uptake of the company's forward contracts, Mr Robinson said, with similar numbers to last year.

"We expect the market to remain fairly buoyant for producers," he said.

The National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) reported WA lamb yardings increased 57 per cent last week and almost doubled numbers yarded the same week last year.

Sheep throughput gained around 6pc on last week and 17pc year-on-year.

The lift in yardings came after reduced offerings across June, partly due to producers busy with cropping programs.

Store lamb yardings were largely responsible for the jump in numbers and most of these lines sold to live export and processor feedlot inquiry.

Despite numbers increasing, WA restocker lamb prices remained around 50pc above last year, at 444c/kg cwt, fuelled by a combination of solid restocker and feedlot inquiry.

Similarly, despite higher prime lamb consignments, trade lamb prices lifted three cents, to 527c/kg cwt - 8pc lower than last year.

Mutton prices are still historically high and although they slipped slightly last week, are still 35pc higher year-on-year at 352c/kg cwt.

With good rainfall received in many areas throughout the state, prices were expected to lift again in coming weeks.



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