Cattle, lamb and mutton markets enter the 2014 Easter and ANZAC day hiatus at some of the highest prices seen for a long time, the result of well received rain through the southern states throughout autumn, combined with late March falls through Queensland.
Compared to where prices entered the Christmas break, the cattle market has improved 11-20%, while the average national medium cow price has jumped 41% since its recent low point in late January. The EYCI finished Wednesday at 354.75¢/kg cwt – the highest daily price since early October 2012.
The lamb market continues to track at higher levels, with trade lambs this week averaging 10¢ higher, at 574¢/kg cwt, while heavy lambs jumped 16¢, to average 604¢/kg cwt. Compared to the corresponding week last year, trade and heavy lamb prices were 49% higher, while the mutton price kicked 132% year-on-year, to average 346¢/kg cwt this week.
Given the disruptions to normal trading patterns over the next two weeks, along with the recent rain, the market will have to wait until the first week of May for a clearer picture to return. Most expectations are for supplies to remain on a tightening path, with the traditional spike in May turnoff (in preparations for winter) unlikely to occur in 2014 – given the massive turnoff in the previous months.