A re-check of the weekly slaughter figures was required with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) as the NSW lamb slaughter volumes took an uncharacteristic tumble this week. The National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) team at MLA confirmed that a NSW processor was down for the week ending 22 October and the result was a 36% drop in lamb slaughter volumes to see just 67,859 head processed.
The magnitude of the fall is reminiscent of the Easter processor closure and places current lamb slaughter levels in NSW 32% under the seasonal average pattern for this week in the year. Normally, we would expect to see NSW lamb slaughter maintain at around 100,000 head per week from now until the end of the season, according to the five-year average weekly trend.
In contrast, Victorian lamb slaughter increased by 8% on the week to nudge above 160,000 head. Despite the gain Victorian lamb processing volumes remain under the average seasonal pattern by about 15%. At this time in the season weekly lamb slaughter volumes usually average around 190,000 head but a combination of Covid restrictions, workforce constraints and a slow start to the spring flush have been hampering processors.
The combined east coast lamb slaughter volumes have been volatile of late, displaying a see-saw action over the past few weeks between 275,000 and 320,000 head. Usually at this time of the year east coast lamb slaughter is averaging about 350,000 head per week. The week ending 22 October saw just 280,721 head of lamb processed which places the current slaughter volumes at levels 21% under the five-year average pattern.