Eastern states lamb slaughter last week (week ending January 21) did rise week-on-week, albeit by less than 1 per cent, to 276,012. This was the lowest lamb slaughter for that corresponding week since 2011, and was down 15% on 2021, 19% on the five-year-average. Lamb slaughter for the year-to-date is still 30% lower year-on-year, and 32% below the 2020 level. Lamb yardings, on the other hand, are still showing producer hesitancy to potentially lower processor demand, with last week’s east coast total down 62% year-on-year, with about 140,000 less lambs going through the saleyards than the same week in 2021. And it’s yet to follow slaughter higher, with many saleyards reporting lower throughput again this week.
In keeping with its solo status from the rest of the country, WA slaughter hasn’t felt the full brunt of Covid-19 impact on slaughter so far in 2022, with lamb volumes for the year-to-date down just 11% on 2021 , and within close range of 2020 totals. Their sheep slaughter has come back more significantly year-on-year, down more than 20%, however this is likely a reflection of improved seasonal conditions and less sheep availability, rather than processing capacity or demand. This is less the case for sheep throughput in the eastern states, and more likely producer market hesitation, with yardings down 65% year-on-year last week to just 27,883 (compared to more than 80,000 in the same week of 2021). Sheep slaughter has also made up much less ground then lambs in the east, still 32% lower year-on-year last week, and back nearly 33% for 2022 so far.