Big volumes, but prices hold

Livestock | 14th December 2020 | By Matt Dalgleish

The Snapshot

  • East coast lamb yarding levels lifted 11% on the week to see the highest weekly lamb yarding level since the 2017 season.
  • Despite the strong supply, most price categories of lamb across the eastern states managed to hold their ground, suggesting strong demand.
  • Victorian lamb yarding levels have been driving the east coast volumes higher with the second largest weekly yarding level reported in over a decade with more than 165,000 head of lamb presented last week.

The Detail

The weekly east coast lamb throughput levels lifted by 11% to see over 280,000 head yarded last week. This is the largest weekly level of lamb yarded since 2017 across the eastern seaboard and represents a level 4% above the five-year average seasonal pattern for this week in the year.

Despite the strong volumes offered most price categories of east coast lamb held their ground. The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) increased by 12 c/kg on the week to close at 770 c/kg cwt, not a bad effort given the large volumes of lamb presented. East coast heavy lambs managed a similar 13c/kg lift to hit 763 c/kg cwt. Price gains in the face of solid supply suggests some good levels of demand as we head toward the Xmas sale yard recess.

East coast light lamb the only lamb category to ease on the week, off 30c/kg to close at 825c/kg cwt.

Victorian lamb throughout continued to underpin the east coast volumes with the second highest weekly yarding reported in over a decade. Victorian lamb yarding levels rising 16% to reach over 165,000 head on the week. This represents levels that are 18% higher than the five-year average trend for this week in the season.

The only week in the last decade that saw greater weekly lamb volumes in Victoria was the second last week of sales in the 2016 season when yarding levels hit a peak of 183,015 head.

The weekly trajectory of lamb throughput in Victoria has been on a similar path to that seen during the 2016 season since November, so it will be interesting to see if we can match the 2016 peak this week prior to the sale yards closing for the Xmas break.

Despite the strong lamb volumes in Victoria, the trade and heavy lamb categories in this state still managed a price lift on the week, albeit marginally. The Victorian Trade Lamb was up 6 c/kg to 760 c/kg cwt. Meanwhile, the Victorian Heavy Lamb saw a 9c/kg gain to close at 768 c/kg cwt.  Merino and Light Lambs in Victoria feeling the price pain from the higher supply, dropping by 56 c/kg and 48 c/kg, respectively.

The strong price finish to the end of the season bodes well for producers into the new year. Don’t be surprised to see the ESTLI up over 800 c/kg into January once sale yards recommence in earnest.


  • Lamb
  • Sheep
  • Throughput
  • Supply and Demand