WHEN it comes to saleyard markets, Western Australia has traditionally been known as the 'little brother' to its Eastern States' counterparts.
However last month, Katanning and Muchea sheep saleyards were able to keep pace and - in some cases even overtake - the big yards across the border.
For two consecutive weeks in January, Katanning contributed the most number of trade lambs, according to the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) indicator.
MLA market information analyst Ripley Atkinson said it was the first time it had ever happened for any week-on-week pair.
Mr Atkinson put it down to lack of sheep numbers in the Eastern States, as well as a difference in seasons.
"It's not everyday WA is dominating in terms of sheep numbers," Mr Atkinson said.
"Even with the number of lambs coming through Katanning at the minute, the price has remained strong.
"Trade lambs have received a 60 cent premium to the national average and are averaging 856 cents per kilogram, which is the highest we have seen in the past 12 months."
Mr Atkinson added that Katanning held 7 per cent of the restocker lamb indicator in terms of the number of head.
But in comparison to the overall average, it was trading at a 200c discount.
MLA market information manager Stephen Bignell said Katanning had become the "dominant trade lamb selling centre".
He said dominance had also reached the light lamb market, of which the saleyard was the biggest contributor with 20pc of the main share, trading at a significant 90c discount.
Additionally, restocker lambs have also been trading at a discount, whereas heavy weight lambs have been trading at a premium.
"Katanning is making up a significant portion across the board," Mr Bignell said.
"Buyers were quite active last week (Wednesday, January 19) because they didn't have a sale this week (Wednesday, January 26) due to the public holiday.
"There was demand from processors, who got in to have a dip."
When it came to putting weight on trade and heavy weight lambs, Mr Atkinson said it "wasn't exactly easy" given WA's rainfall is traditionally winter dominated.
He said as it was hot and dry, there would be short supply and processors would be happy to pay overs for the heavier lambs because there weren't as many about.
"That's exactly what is impacting that at the minute - just because of the lack of supply and feed,'' Mr Atkinson said.
"Even though there is a lot of grain and WA is expanding its footprint in grain finished lambs, pasture isn't essentially going to be as good quality compared to the middle of winter.
"The lack of supply is definitely driving the demand, which is improving the price."
Mr Atkinson said in terms of supply, the Eastern States weren't performing anywhere near where they should be.
He said that was due to supply chain disruptions, whereas WA was "continuing as is" and its supply volumes were performing relatively well.
"It is an interesting dynamic and obviously in time it will change when the State's winter dominated rainfall period arrives," Mr Atkinson said.
"But that is why at the minute we are seeing those heavy prices perform well.
"Looking at the light categories, including the light and restocker lambs, it is just the opposite where a good winter would have meant joining percentages and branding rates for lambs would have been strong.
"So when you are in the middle of a hot summer, a lot of those light lambs are going to be around because during the wet winter farmers would have joined most of the breeding females.
"Then obviously those lambs are on the ground now and ready to be turned off, but not many can put on weight given the hot and dry conditions."
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