HAS there ever been a better time to be involved in the sheep and wool industry?
The answer would be no if you look at the record breaking results in both sheep and wool sales last week.
On the sheep side of the equation a new benchmark for commercial ewe prices in WA was set when agents hosted a number of flock dispersals in clearing sales in the eastern Wheatbelt.
Prices hit unprecedented levels when they went beyond the $300 mark at Carlo and Jenny Varone’s flock dispersal at Little Italy via Hyden.
In the Varone family’s sale, conducted by Westcoast Wool & Livestock, prices topped at $310, setting a new State record price for commercial ewes.
The price easily broke the previous State record price for commercial ewes of $239 which was set in October last year at the Landmark Corrigin/Wickepin State Premier Ewe and Wether Lamb Sale.
The record-breaking line of 719 white tag, rising two-year-old, September shorn Merino ewes, which had been running with Poll Merino rams, was purchased by the Ledwith, Varone and Hunter families in partnership.
But it wasn’t only the top-priced line which bettered the previous record.
The entire offering of 4486 ewes and ewe lambs in the sale averaged $257, while the overall sale gross, including rams, totalled more than $1.17 million.
Westcoast Wool & Livestock sheep manager Lincon Gangell said the prices achieved in the sale were well and truly above presale expectations.
“Before the sale we were hoping if we achieved $220-$230 on the younger ewes we would be doing well, so to sell all the lines at record levels is unbelievable,” Mr Gangell said.
“The prices are certainly a good sign for the Merino industry and shows the confidence producers have in Merinos on the back of the strong wool and sheep markets of the past couple of years.”
There were also some strong prices recorded for the Kerse family’s flock dispersal which formed part of the family’s clearing sale conducted by Elders at Bruce Rock last week.
In this sale a draft of rising 2yo, February shorn ewes, which had been running with Merino rams, topped at $224.
Wool prices also set new records last week at the Western Wool Centre (WWC) live auctions with some of the best prices recorded in six months.
Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) price guides for 21 and 22 micron fleece on Wednesday set the first records at the WWC since a meteoric price run ended last September.
Price guide records of 2363 cents per kilogram clean for 21 micron fleece and 2333c/kg for 22 micron fleece broke the previous records set back in August for those micron guides by 6c and 69c respectively.
Before Wednesday last week AWEX’s regional market summary west had last listed a price for 22 micron fleece at the WWC on November 21 and it was 2081c/kg back then.
Following the lead from a strong market at the Melbourne wool selling centre trading on its own the day before, and on the back of speculation China might ban wool trade with South Africa over Foot and Mouth disease concerns, the WWC market surged on Wednesday.
Prices across the micron spectrum jumped between 73c and 89c with the Western Indicator (WMI) adding 72c to 2202c/kg and closing to within 77c of its all-time high.
But wool prices did generally ease across the board at the WWC on the Thursday with the WMI finishing at 2161c/kg, while the Eastern Indicator for the week finished at 2027c.
At these levels AWEX quoted a 19 micron, 67pc yield 185kg bale of wool was worth $2837 last week, while a bale of 21 micron wool was worth $2789.