Much needed rain has taken the pressure off feed through large portions of the country, but the situation is varied from region-to-region. The drought-declared areas of Taranaki and Manawatu along with the lower-half of the South Island are still worth keeping a close eye on, but are not in dire straits just yet. Other regions are generally enjoying a better than average summer to date.
Backlogs of cattle have eased since late-December. Generally there’s enough feed about to opt for weight-gain on steers and bulls, while it’s unlikely too many cows will come out until pregnancy testing has been completed on dairy farms. The store market has a bit more of a spark too, more so through the North Island. The M. Bovis disease is causing some North Island traders to shy away from buying South Island calves.
The US beef markets held its ground through the past few weeks. Sentiment is much more positive than six weeks ago, with solid enquiry reported from the US. With that said prices have been somewhat underpinned by increased activity from Asian markets for lean-grinding beef. Prime beef sales have begun the year on a slightly softer tone.
The reduced pressure on feed has subdued the national lamb kill, though good numbers are still coming forward through the lower South Island. Slaughter prices are only marginally lower than late-December, as is typical, but strong demand and lower supplies should keep the market decent at least through January. Ewes are still hot property, a state that’s unlikely to change. At least one North Island contract is offering as much as $5.00/kg through February. Store lambs and breeding ewes are also selling well through all regions of the country.
International lamb markets have continued to tick-over at the same level as the end of last year. The big December kill appears to have been absorbed well by the wider-market, and expectations of tighter supplies through the next month or so should underpin values in the short-term. Production for the chilled Easter trade is just beginning.
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Commentary provided and written by AgriHQ and the opinions expressed in the commentary are solely those of AgriHQ not necessarily those of Heartland Bank
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