AuctionsPlus Market Insights: February Commentary

By Tom Rookyard, Lead Analyst, AuctionsPlus Market Insights

That's Tom, our lead analyst, as he usually dresses, on the left. He is accompanied by our usually very serious Sales Manager, Mick Corcoran.


February has seen the store sheep and lamb markets take another step forward. Online just shy of 300,000 sheep were offered including reoffers, with Merino ewe and ewe lambs and crossbred store lambs making up over 60% of the offering. The Central West of NSW once again topped the listings offering 46,000 head, while South West Victoria and the Riverina of NSW offered 29,000 and 26,000 head respectively. Buyer confidence was up seeing a 95% clearance for the National Lamb sale and an 83% clearance for the Tuesday sheep sales across the month, up 2% and 11% on January respectively. Scanned in Lamb (SIL) and joined Merino ewes saw a flurry of buying activity, with large numbers being purchased by buyers in the Central West of NSW, including 12,000 ewes that will head from West Australia across the Nullarbor into NSW, as Eastern buyers look for value in this bullish market. SIL Merino ewe prices rose as growers look to rebuild, averaging $241, up $19 on January, while SIL First Cross ewes rose by $65 on January to average $307. Store lambs are still on a stellar run, seeing prices average $165 across the month, up $32 on January 2020, and up $60 on February 2019. The Central West of NSW again controlled the market purchasing 26% of store lambs on offer.


The month of February has seen the cattle market go from strength to strength. Prices along with the number of head offered have shot up to record levels, seeing a top of 668c/kg liveweight for light steer calves and a top of 686c for heifer calves. Across the entire month AuctionsPlus offered 64,000 cattle including reoffers, which also saw a record of 23,677 head offered on Friday 28th. Southern and Western Queensland, and the Riverina of NSW were the top listing regions, offering 7,800, 6,400 and 6,000 head each. Feeder and backgrounder steers and unjoined heifers continue to be offered in droves which is meeting strong buyer demand seeing a 93% clearance rate for the Weaner & Yearling Sale, up 3% on January. While there was 12,000 joined and PTIC heifers and cows & calves offered in February, with the Eastern States sales achieving a 68% clearance rate. On the buying front the Northern Tablelands have been overtaken by Southern Queensland buyers as the ‘top dog’. Southern Queensland purchased over 11,000 steers and unjoined heifers for the month. Southern QLD feedlots have been dominant in the feeder stock purchasing, and proved that distance is no issue purchasing cattle from as far south as Port Fairy, VIC; Tocumwal, NSW; and Longwood, VIC. Rainfalls in Northern NSW has spurred producers to look for restocking articles purchasing over 3,100 joined females and cows & calves, with PTIC heifers averaging $1,758, up $240, and PTIC cows averaging $1,711, up $154 on January. While the North West Slopes & Plain of NSW topped the purchasing of light steer and heifer calves under 220kgs; sourcing 2,400 head for the month, but was closely followed by Southern Queensland.