Tom Rookyard, AuctionsPlus Market Insights
Elders agent and AuctionsPlus Level 1 Professional assessor, Dean Hubbard, successfully conducted the inaugural Elders WA Forward Contract Lamb Sale during August 2018 – with the 2019 return of the sale keenly anticipated. Dean, Western Australia’s Elders Zone West Commercial Sheep Manager, offered 10,700 lambs last year online – driven by the desire to offset the traditional price trough for producers in late September and early October, when the seasonal flush of lambs hit the market.
The 2018 sale was conducted in the standard AuctionsPlus online helmsman style of auction, where all lots are open at once, with bidders able to jump between any lot. All lambs were sold on a c/kg live weight basis. After 30 minutes of the sale being open, a 30 second timer commences which re-sets every time a bid is placed. Once that timer reaches zero the auction concludes. The 2018 sale ran for 31 minutes, with a total of 36 registered bidders from South Australia and Western Australia. Once the sale closes, all bids are final, with a sale contract drawn up between buyer and seller.
Prior to cataloguing, Dean sat down one-on-one with all vendors to outline the sale process. The lambs were inspected and assessed by an AuctionsPlus accredited assessor. The assessor ascertains objective and subjective measurements including breed, weight, fat score, sex break-up, wool length, grazing conditions, stock history and bloodlines. From here, the assessor works with the vendor to predict potential weight gain in order to pick a delivery period in which the lambs will meet the required buyer specifications. 2018 results had lambs delivered between 31kgs and 40kgs, with the heaviest end, greater than 35kg, drawing a premium. Delivery periods ranged from 21 days post sale (27th August) through to just under four months (3rd of December). Interestingly South Australian buyers were considerably more active on the later delivered lambs, reportedly helping to sure up supplies heading into the Christmas period.
While an exact comparison is difficult, an analysis against MLA’s Muchea saleyard young lamb price revealed the online prices maintained a consistently higher return, with the seasonal downturn in late September and early October giving the largest price premium.
Upon delivery of the lambs, Dean and his fellow Elders WA sheep assessors autodraft all lambs to specifications to ensure the buyer receives what was described at the assessment. Lambs are then weighed at the nearest registered weighbridge. Throughout this whole process the assessor, vendor and buyer were kept in close contact, to ensure that the stock was delivered to the assessment standards as per contract.
Looking forward, Dean is anticipating offering around 40,000 lambs online in August 2019, and has urged more of his clients to consider the forward contract lamb sales. “The upcoming sale allows clients to spread risk, particularly during the three-month live export ban during the Middle East Summer, (From June 1st, 2019),”. Further to this, Dean expects additional support from feedlotter and growers, looking to put lambs back onto a wheat stubble. Dean has received interest from South Australian and Victorian buyers already, which signals the potential for a strong selling season in WA.