Processors and Prices
Weekly east coast processing volumes are slow to recover from the dip seen during April. Cattle slaughter lifted just 9% for the week ending 29th April to 78,834 head. Last year the decline seen during Easter & Anzac Day holidays was similar to what we saw this year but numbers recovered post the Easter break into the 90,000s. Current weekly east coast cattle slaughter sits 16% below levels seen for the same week in 2021 and 38% under the five-year average trend for this time in the season.
It is a similar story for east coast lamb & sheep slaughter volumes too. Lamb processing for the week ending 29th April rose by 6% to 300,064 head and sheep processing managed just a 4% gain to 71,471 head. In 2021 the Easter dip in lamb processing went about 10,000 head lower than the drop in 2022, but by the end of April lamb slaughter was back at nearly 325,000 head. Compared to the five-year pattern for this week in the year current lamb slaughter volumes are running 13% below trend. Meanwhile weekly sheep slaughter is running 24% under the five-year average seasonal pattern for this time in the year.
In terms of weekly price moves cattle markets are a little mixed, east coast young cattle prices have rallied back above 1100 cents, but finished cattle are marginally softer. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) lifted nearly 2% on the week to close at 1108 c/kg cwt and the National Heavy Steer was off 1% to rest at 447 c/kg lwt. The Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) holds a 7% premium spread to the EYCI after posting a 2.4% gain this week to close at 1184c/kg cwt.
The big winner on the week, in terms of percentage gains, was the WA Trade Lamb Indicator with a solid 15% jump to 675c/kg. Although it was coming off a pretty low base after falling below east coast mutton values over Easter to 553 cents. Despite the strong turn around the WATLI still runs at a 15% discount spread to the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) which also increased in value over the week. The ESTLI gained 3.6% to close at 796c/kg cwt as of Thursday 5th May. The National Mutton Indicator bucked the trend for ovine markets with a 3.1% decline over the week to finish at 568 c/kg cwt.