The transfer window

Livestock | 16th October 2023 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

A respected subscriber asked us to take a look at flows of sheep from west to east. The last time we took a look at these flows was back in May 2023 and it showed that volumes being sent east as of the end of April were beginning to increase above the average seasonal pattern. We speculated that very wide discounts for sheep and lamb seen in WA, compared to the eastern states pricing, was beginning to encourage some flow of stock to the east. May 2023 saw above average volumes shipped too with nearly 43,000 head shipped east, compared to the ten-year average May levels of around 30,000 head.

However, producer confidence in the sheep market and pricing took a massive dive through winter and shipments of sheep and lamb from the west to the east stalled. June through to August saw monthly volumes between 4,000 – 6,000 head, well below the ten-year average monthly volumes usually sent during winter of 15,000 to 18,000 head.

As of September 2023 shipments east have increased to 25,420 during the month, but that is still nearly 32% below the September average flows. For the 2023 season total shipments east sits at 161,933 head (as at the end of September). Compared to 2022 this is an increase of 78%, but compared to the ten-year average pattern volumes for 2023 are still running 38% below the average.

However, the 2020 season was a huge year for shipments so that probably inflates the ten-year average flows. If we remove the 2020 data and compare the current trend to the longer term average volumes then the current flows are pretty close to average levels with the January to September total shipments at nearly 162,000 head for 2023 versus the January to September average of around 164,000 head.

Normally, the peak in shipments from west to east occurs over the last quarter of the year, often making a high water mark in October. We will revisit the transport flows after the current year is concluded to see what develops over the October to December time frame.


  • Sheep
  • Lamb
  • Transport
  • Live Sheep