The back-end of winter looks and feels a lot like spring. The lower and eastern North Island were particularly warm, though everywhere except Northland and Southland have recorded above-average temperatures this August. Generally it hasn’t been too wet either bar a weekend of heavy rain which was needed in the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay. Grass is definitely benefitting from the conditions and new season lamb survivability is about as good as can be expected.
In typical mid-winter fashion processors are adding a little more to cattle slaughter prices. For the most part lifts haven’t been rapid, though local trade in the South Island has jumped 40c/kg in the space of a fortnight. More of the same is likely in the next few weeks, at least until the kill begins to gain a bit more volume. Store cattle are turning around quite quickly as the grass gets growing, often getting more expensive by the week. Four-day calves are largely selling as well as can be expected given the cloud that is M. Bovis continues to linger. A few more calves are being bobbied this year, but not a massive volume.
The wider export beef market is still quite flat. There’s simply too much beef in circulation across the globe. Thankfully consumers are still taking to beef with relative enthusiasm, ensuring the system doesn’t get too clogged up, but how long everything can hold out is still questionable. The fact that NZ is in its quietest part of the year is helping sales out a little.
Lamb schedules are out-of-kilter with the export markets. Weekly price increases are coming straight out of processors pockets as they compete over the left-overs of last year’s lamb crop. They’re trying to limit increases from here on out, but whether they can keep prices pinned back is debatable. Store lambs are selling well above what schedules would indicate. Saleyards are often averaging $150-$160/hd for store lambs. Ewe with lambs-at-foot are slowly appearing too, selling around $115-$125 all counted at the Stortford yards.
Pressure is building within lamb export markets. Europe’s very hot summer is restricting consumer-level demand for lamb, seeing importers back-off NZ lamb. Inventories there are higher than comfortable too, and it’ll be very important that these are worked through by mid-November when new season lambs begin to come forward.
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