Wether prices tipped to remain strong

Agribusiness
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SINCE the start of the year shipping wethers have seen strong prices and at the end of January, early February, they topped last year’s high to reach $125 per head, according to market reports.

SINCE the start of the year shipping wethers have seen strong prices and at the end of January, early February, they topped last year’s high to reach $125 per head, according to market reports.

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While there has been a range of prices paid in saleyards depending on quality and competition, the statistics speak for themselves.

The Elders Muchea market report on January 18, 2018 said wethers suitable for live export met solid support from both live exporters and processors to sell within the $100-$125/head price range.

In Katanning, for the same published date, Elders reported that wethers sold for $95-$150 per head to live export.

The price seen at Muchea during February was about

10-15c/kg above the February 2017 price – but about 30c/kg above the equivalent 2016 price.

While it has dropped back slightly to $120 per head in the past two weeks, strong prices are expected to continue throughout 2018.

Emanuel Exports export services manager John Edwards said wether prices had been steadily increasing over many years now and sheep prices were at record highs.

He said adult heavy wethers carrying full fleeces were realising up to $150-$160 per head with bare-shorn shipping wether prices sitting about $120-$125.

“There’s no better sign for the sheep industry with live sheep, wool and sheep meat prices like they are at the moment, and forecasts are that they will remain very firm going forward,” Mr Edwards said.

“It’s a good time for producers to get back into sheep and grow their flocks.

“Signals like these could never be better for encouraging people to go back into sheep.

“It’s an ideal time.”

Mr Edwards said there was still a lot of demand internationally and the company had received plenty of enquiries from the market for more numbers live.

“I don’t see that reducing,” he said.

“Especially with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan falling in May – which is one of the peak demand periods targeted by Middle East importers.”

Sheep export shipments from Fremantle make up about 1.8 million head per year, which is a huge amount for a declining WA flock.

Mr Edwards said the WA sheep flock was going through an unprecedented stage.

“The flock is at its lowest it has ever been and if people did the math they would see it was at a critical point in terms of production and supply in order to be able to support the demand of processors and live exporters,” he said.

Mr Edwards said live exporters were continually working on finding new markets.

“It all comes down to the capacity of the flock,” he said.

“If the industry is going to have the capacity to develop and service new markets we need the numbers on the ground.

“Producers simply can’t put a million head on the ground overnight and this is what we could well need to service old, and emerging new markets.”

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