An exciting time to be in lamb industry

An exciting time to be in lamb industry

Sheep
KG Livestock Services owner Kelly Gorter with Rural Data Management Services director Mike Kirke and Katanning Regional Sheep Saleyards manager Rod Bushell at last week's Lamb-Tech seminar.

KG Livestock Services owner Kelly Gorter with Rural Data Management Services director Mike Kirke and Katanning Regional Sheep Saleyards manager Rod Bushell at last week's Lamb-Tech seminar.

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Mr Bushell presented at the Lamb-Tech seminar at Borden.

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LAST week the Katanning Regional Sheep Saleyards was an exciting place to be with saleyards manager Rod Bushell telling the audience at the Borden Lamb-Tech "prices went berserk".

In some unprecedented scenes, sellers were getting mutton prices of up to $220 a head for older ewes (equal to $6 kilograms) and overall values were quoted as $8-$40 a head stronger than the previous week.

The incredible prices may have been good for vendors but it has also came with a prediction there could be tough times ahead for processors who are trying to procure kill numbers.

The jump in prices was attributed to a contingent of four to five interstate buyers competing hard in the market against local processors.

"It is good for farmers but I do worry down the track that they are taking a lot of maiden ewes," Mr Bushell said.

"Some will go for restocking but there are a lot going for slaughter in other States."

Mr Bushell said about 43 road trains went across the border two weeks ago and if that continued, and he beleived it would, he could see WA sheep numbers getting extremely low and local processors would battle to get the volume needed.

He predicted it would get worse in the short-term.

"We get this type of situation probably a month or two down the track but here we are at the start of March and we are battling to get numbers for our own processors - it's good money but I worry."

Up to $240 was paid for wethers last week and defied the normal price protocols by making more than crossbred lambs.

Crossbred lambs fetched $210 last week and light store lambs were at $8/kg

Young Merino ewes made from $100-$200 with many destined for processors.

Another extraordinary movement and probably the biggest price jump was for rams.

"You couldn't get rid of them a month ago and they were making only $5-$40 but last week they were bringing $80-$170 a head."

Mr Bushell said one agent turned over more than $1m and he estimated the yarding grossed more than $2.5m.

He used the seminar to highlight one of the yard's biggest problems that of limping and defective sheep.

Mr Bushell warned farmers that a Department of Agriculture and Food animal welfare squad was now vigilant in the saleyards and had a number of welfare cases pending against farmers who had sent unfit stock to the saleyards.

"If we see them, we take them out and they are destroyed but it is an important responsibility that both farmers and truck drivers don't load animals that are in doubt," he said.

Mr Bushell said buyers rejected animals with health issues and the animal welfare squad was strictly reinforcing any problems they saw.

Farmers had to be mindful everyone (in the saleyards) had a camera and if anything untoward appeared on social media or was televised it was regarded by viewers as the normal standard for the industry.

Mr Bushell said offenders could expect a phone call from compliance staff and at times he was also concerned enough to speak personally with stock owners.

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