After registering ‘average’ to ‘above average’ rainfall during February across most of the key sheep and cattle producing regions, the first week of March continued to offer some relief to stocking pressure, which assisted markets along the way. In saying that, the systems that have passed through have only provided a small amount of rain compared to what’s required, with plenty more necessary before there is any significant turnaround in feed availability to encourage restocking.
The rain helped lift the lamb market again this week, with the largest jump evident for Merino lambs – up 58¢, to average 492¢/kg cwt. While there were increased offerings in Victoria, all other states were much lower, which, along with the rain, assisted heavy lambs to increase 29¢, to average 574¢/kg cwt. Many NSW producers are hoping the wet weather last week was the start of a substantial autumn break, and winter crop planting will start to gather pace. Despite this, most regions are still feeling the impact of the very dry past 18 months.
The cattle market also benefited from the rain, and the EYCI reached its highest level since late last year, underpinned by improved prices through CTLX. However, this price gain may be short lived if further rain is not soon received across southern Queensland, with wide expanses still firmly gripped by drought.
February continued the common record breaking export theme of the past 12 months, with beef and veal exports exceeding 100,000 tonnes swt, lamb surpassing 19,000 tonnes swt and mutton nearly reaching 19,000 tonnes swt – all driven by the momentum of the persistent high slaughter during February.