• Rikki Lambert

Your farmgate outlook for 20-26 March

Wet weather dominated national headlines and footage, and so too the big wet in New South Wales featured in this week's saleyard and farmgate reports and outlooks.

Reports from the saleyards attributed to the rain the movement in volumes, while the freight issues remain a concern for wool and other export industries.


The Wednesday 24 March Eastern Young Cattle Indicator sees prices at 887.25c, up 9.19c on the previous indicator and up 33.96c on the previous week. Looking across the data, Yearling Steer are in fact the only cattle type contributing to the price rise, with vealer heifers, vealer steers and yearling heifers all falling over the last week.

Sales volumes were down across the nation, falling about 30% on the previous week to 6,896 head.

Vealer Heifers are fetching 886.25 (-34.39 on last week), vealer steers 944c (-29.53), yearling heifers 816.25c (-16.8c) but yearling steers rose sharply, up 115c to 957c.


Victorian cattle prices are generally inferior to the rest of the nation across all vealer and yearling steer categories, but stronger through the medium and heavy steer to medium cow prices. This was exacerbated by further falls in the 5-7% category across the board except for medium steers.

Western Victoria has the best feeder yearling steer price at 441.3c compared with Gippsland and Central West prices, and marginally the best processor yearling steer price at 450c.

Warrnambool saleyard numbers were down to 914 yarding (-444 head) of a 'mixed quality selection'.

Swan Hill yardings fell on Thursday on the week before, by almost half to 568 head after rain across the supply area.


The trade lamb indicator spiked towards 850c this week, tracking closer to matching last year's price that fell sharply from 2-year highs at the same time last year.

Vealer steer and processor yearling steer prices improved slightly, to 439.3c and 451.2c respectively. Medium steers fell 22.5c to 361.2c.

Mount Gambier saleyard volumes were well down, falling 335 head to 494, although MLA observed quality was generally good. Dublin trade continued to be low, down 25 head to 300, with a sizeable number from North East pastoral areas with quality 'generally lacking'.

Naracoorte saleyeard numbers on Tuesday were also down slightly, to 533 head.


Restocker yearling steers fell hard this week, down 54.9c to 538.4c - but still 115.1c ahead of last year. However, in southern NSW prices are still strong, 623.7c compared with below 500c in the central west and northern parts of the state.

Medium steer prices rose 38.8c to 410.4c, with modest gains in all other categories.

The nation's best vealer steer price is coming out of NSW at 523.6c, well ahead of SA and Victoria both on 439.3c. Southern NSW's vealer steer price, at 538.1c, just pips northern NSW for best price in the state. NSW's medium steer prices at 410.4c are bettered only by WA at 428.4c, with heavy cows the same story at 283.1c NSW vs 298.7c WA.

Southern NSW's medium cow price is the best in the state at 291.9c, just ahead of the Hunter on 290c.

Wagga saleyard volumes fell 1,030 to 2,400 this week, albeit still the highest ranked saleyard nationwide contributing 19.8%. MLA reported from the yards:

"Weather continues to influence supply with numbers dropping dramatically after torrential rain over the supply area. There was a limited selection of trade cattle and reduced numbers of heavy export stock. Competition was stronger across most categories."

Monday's statewide yarding data showed Wagga strongest at 3,430 the previous week, compared with Dubbo the next strongest at 1,733 and a statewide volume of 11,820.


Sheep indicator

Sheep prices nationwide were generally up this week, halting weeks of modest falls. Volumes also rose at the saleyards, perhaps sparked by optimism after good rains.

Heavy Lamb was the biggest improver, up 41c to 826c. Restocker lambs slid 28c to 901c.

Across the most recent available data, 105,926 sheep were yarded in Victoria with Ballarat dominant at over 39,000, Bendigo 29,000, Hamilton 23,000, Horsham 8,460 and Swan Hill 6,000.


Victoria's prices sit in the mid-to-lower range across the board for all sheep prices nationwide, however mutton is the strongest in the country at 688c.

Prices improved around 1-2% this week, with mutton the biggest improver, rising 49c.

The Horsham saleyards traded over 15% more volume on Wednesday compared to the previous week, with MLA reporting:

"Lamb supply increased again this week with 7,050 head yarded. Quality was more mixed, but with good numbers of trade weighted and heavy lambs penned. The usual buying group plus some returning competition attended and operated keenly in a dearer market with most lambs selling from $7 to $15/head up on last week, with the neatest short skin lambs to $20/head dearer at times."

Victorian yardings on the most recent available data from last week stood at 10,567, with Leongatha's volume the largest at 2,713.


South Australian prices were in the mid-range this week compared to other states, although second only to NSW in restocker lamb prices, at 934c compared to NSW's 1,044c. Light lamb prices picked up 62c to 888c, the biggest mover in this week's metrics.

Naracoorte saleyard traded 885 head more, up to 6,906, on Tuesday.

Dublin's SA Livestock Exchange numbers were down 500 head to 6,000, with MLA reporting that quality also reduced significantly.

The most recent available data shows 14,970 yarded across the state, 6,500 at Dublin, 6,000 at Naracoorte and 2,449 at Mount Gambier.

The most recent available yarding data, for the preveious week, showed SA at 1,713 with Mount Gambier contributing the most, 829 head.


Most NSW sheep prices improved this week, with trade lambs increasing the most, up 76c to 883c.

Restocker lambs in NSW are still the highest valued in the land at 1,044c, with prices strong across all other categories, just ahead of Qld at the top price of 835c for heavy lambs.

Corowa sale numbers almost halved on Monday from the previous week, down 6,349 head to 7,800. MLA claimed wet conditions resulted in agents penning a small yarding.

Conversely to the north-east, there was a big jump in the Wagga Saleyard on Thursday compared with the previous week, with 9,600 yarded with 12,000 more lambs but a drop in sheep by 2,400 to 5,500. Meat & Livestock Australia reported:

"Elevated rain gauges and higher prices at all major sales this week inspired producers to offload bigger numbers of trade and heavy lambs."

Total NSW yardings on the most recent available data were at 111,454, with Wagga the biggest contributor at 32,400 and Corowa 3rd at 14,149, behind Forbes.


Elders Wool reports that the 'headwinds' for Australian wool persisted but the market fared reasonably well:

"The ongoing shipping constraints and the cash flow limitations it creates are certainly still a negative factor. As is the lacklustre demand from key markets as the trade tries to cope with a large offering each week in the shadow of the grower stockpile. Throw in a bit of volatility in both the currency market and the commodities trade around the globe and a less than 3% movement in wool prices for the week was seen by most as a pretty good result.

Australian Wool Innovation Limited agrees with the problems in freight hampering recovery on wool pricing:

"Despite wool prices now performing relatively well in the light of reduced consumer access to wool, there has arisen a single issue that may hamper recovery attempts for the price of wool to proceed to higher levels of return; the ongoing and seemingly worsening logistics issues."

Elders Wool further observes on the wool market:

"The AWEX EMI eased by 32 cents in local currency terms, half of which was attributable to currency fluctuations with the market only moving down by 14 US cents, and the same figure in Euro. All the merino fleece indicators eased by 20-30 cents across the week as buyers discounted the faulty types, which do appear to be more prevalent at the moment from both new and old season wools."

Grains & Oilseeds

The most recent NSW DPI weekly commodity report shows wheat fell 1.6% to AUD $305/t (HR) with rain boosting the prospects of the NSW winter crop.

Feed barley prices fell heavier than last week, down 1.7% to $234/t. with NSW DPI indicating recent rain brought extra grower supplies onto the market and also restricted domestic demand.

Canola picked up 1 per cent this week according to ABARES, to $685, up 4 per cent on the same time last year. NSW DPI observed that Canola rose 2.7% to $615/tonne, noting that good soil moisture in NSW and WA will likely increase canola plantings this season. ABARES reports that canola prices are tracking slightliy ahead of 2020 prices, which were well above 2019 prices at the same time in previous years.

Water prices in the Murray-Darling Basin remained subdued at less than $50/ML Basin-wide, with low volumes also traded in the most recent week available, 70GL in the week of 15 March.