Quality is driving improved sheep meat market pricing as the spring flush starts to appear in Victorian saleyards.
Rural Bank insights for the sheep meat sector are tipping that Australian lamb prices will remain fairly stable over the next few weeks as the spring flush continues through November.
Retail prices for lamb are reducing, resulting in an uptick in domestic demand, while both lamb and mutton export volumes are continuing to track well above last year's levels and the five-year average.
Lamb prices have been edging higher over the past few weeks, although the dry seasonal outlook is expected to limit price increases, with the national trade lamb indicator softening 15 cents over the past month and lagging 369 cents behind this time last year.
Elders Bendigo livestock manager Nigel Starick said pricing was quality driven at the moment, with weightier lambs receiving good rates.
"Through the south into the western districts and south east, their season is probably quitting on them at the moment with drier times than normal and that's having an effect on the quality," he said.
"We're about to come into a big supply of lambs again too with your western districts, south east South Australia and even south of Bendigo... they're about to get going with their spring lambs.
"That's going to have an effect just with the sheer numbers available to processors, they'll be able to pick through and pick the quality they want, with a big supply right through to Christmas."
Mr Starick said lambs over 25kg that are "picture perfect" were receiving prices around 550 to 560c, compared to a bracket of 460c to 500c for the bulk of lambs.
"Coming into where we are, the western districts and the Ballarat guys will be driven by seasonal conditions so they will be selling, there won't be too many retained to go through to next year," he said.
"You go between Horsham and Hamilton in the red gum country and you can see the grass is turning there, and they tell me there's no bulk in the south that should be bulking up right now to take them through to Christmas but they missed that one last rain.
"There's going to be a lot of turn off in the next six weeks."
Lamb slaughter averaged almost 442,000 thousand head per week in October, up by 40,000 compared to last October.
Year-to-date lamb slaughter is also well above 2022 levels, up by more than 34,000 per week.
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