Lush pastures keeping lambs on farm

Garry Amos, "Corana", Cowra in a lucerne paddock grazing a July 2016 drop. Mr Amos said a hot market and good pasture conditions had set him up to capitalise on lambing season this month.
Garry Amos, "Corana", Cowra in a lucerne paddock grazing a July 2016 drop. Mr Amos said a hot market and good pasture conditions had set him up to capitalise on lambing season this month.

IT’S steady-as-she-goes for a strong lamb market with scarce numbers expected until the next drop - keeping prices high into winter, and keeping a smile on producers’ faces.

The Easter and Anzac Day holidays are expected to have minimal impact on lamb’s steady price march which, while not a record, had risen to at 680c/kg cwt late last week. That’s a jump of 180c/kg since December and 80c/kg since mid-February.

Agents say many producers have cashed in, but with decent early autumn rain in the Central West providing decent pasture - and with feed grain prices staying low - a significant proportion have decided to put a bit of weight on their lambs and carry them through.

Riverina Livestock Agents director Tim Drum, Wagga Wagga, said he expected numbers to stay low.

“There are some still around but they are pretty hard to buy,” he said. “There some people hading out the door with them right now - but people are definitely doing a good job of finishing them off too.”

Mr Drum said the region could do with a bit of rain, especially as “we’re not looking at any until May.”

He said the Easter break shouldn’t change the market too much.

“With numbers how they are we don’t have to worry about that,” he said. “You’d like to think it doesn’t get too dear to put people out of the market.

“Then again it’s a supply and demand game and we’ve been at the other end of things enough too.”

Ray White Rural Dubbo director David Armitage said producers were very happy in the Central West.

“We are at a very solid level from the perspective of a producer,” Mr Armitage said. “Price wise it looks solid - there’s a clear shortage of good lambs at the moment. They’re obviously keenly sought after.”

He said the rain so far through April would likely to pave the way for a strong Winter season. He, like Mr Drum, also reported farmers had taken the opportunity to carry lambs through.  

“With the feed about they’re finishing them, and they’re finishing them well. And they are being rewarded handsomely.”

Luke Whitty of Miller, Whitty, Lennon and Co, Forbes, said things should stay solid for the next eight weeks at least.

“There’s a couple of breaks - Anzac Day and Easter could have a little effect, but overall it looks pretty stable,” he said. “The conditions have definitely encouraged people to finish them off a bit more. Typically Autumn is a bit tough but in our district we’ve got quite a bit of rain.

“That has created quite a bit of paddock feed, on top of that, you’ve got a supply of fairly affordable fodder that makes it an attractive option to hold (the lambs) over.”

‘Strongest season in years’ at Cowra 

IT’S lambing season at “Corana” near Cowra and mixed farmer Garry Amos couldn’t be happier.

Prices are hot, pastures are lush, and 2100 of his 2300 first-cross ewes will have lambed by the end of April, with the remainder expected to produce another 250 or so young in July.

With plenty of lucerne on hand, Mr Amos said his lambs should have no trouble putting weight on fast - and fetching a decent price.

“It’s one of the best starts (to the season) we’ve had for years,” he said.

“We’ve got the feed in front of the lambs and come August, we’ll be able to sell them a lot earlier than we would have.

“There’s a lot of people who are hanging on to (their lambs), and why wouldn’t they?

“They’re not pushed for feed so they think, ‘what’s the rush to get rid of them? We can value add ourselves and get a few extra dollars for ourselves at the other end’.

Mr Amos has 80 hectares of dryland lucerne and 70-odd Angus cattle, as well as a further 800ha dedicated to cropping.

But like many producers, lamb is his best performing commodity at the moment.

“I’d say it would be yeah - we had low grain prices last year, but we had a very high yield. We do have a bit of fresh lucerne ready for (the lambs) too.”

Mr Amos is also set to reap the rewards of holding onto 150 lambs from last year.

“We could have sold them three weeks ago, but it just makes sense to see them through. With every extra bit of weight we’re going to see more money for it.”