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Short sheep supply stimulates sales

The national mutton indicator remained in the upper realms of price records, closing sales at 412¢/kg cwt.

Simply, limited sheep availability is the primary driver behind the strong prices nationally, with strong wool and lamb values enticing producers to retain whatever ewes they can, especially on the back of poorer lambings in the second half of 2016.

Around the country, the market was fairly mixed, with NSW and Tasmanian mutton prices hovering around 400¢/kg cwt, while SA averaged 324¢/kg cwt.

Despite only patchy showers and feed conditions remaining a concern for parts of Victoria and WA, each of those states remained dearest, with Victoria at 443¢/kg cwt, and WA at 432¢/kg cwt.

Exacerbating the present WA supply situation has been some producers retaining sheep as a means of fallow management for upcoming winter crops, ultimately assisting the market to stretch well above the national average and eastern sates counterparts.

MLA’s Sheep Industry Projections currently estimates national mutton slaughter to remain steady with 2016, at 7 million head, which is down more than one million head from 2015 levels.

Expectations are for the limited availability to remain an influential market factor throughout the winter months, before alleviating somewhat in the final quarter of 2017.