The Month of May that was...

Monthly Market Wrap by Holly Baker & Emma Fessey, AuctionsPlus Market Insights

SHEEP - Holly Baker

May saw an increase of numbers with just shy of 321,000 sheep and lambs offered on online, an increase of 20,000 on last month. Many people are looking to take advantage of the high prices which are being witnessed across the market and are continuing to hold firm despite the ongoing effects of COVID-19. A highlight for the month was a new online record for ewes being set, with a line of First Cross Border Leicester/Merino SIL ewes selling for $446. SIL ewes accounted for 24% of the national offering for the month and with restocking demand at an all-time high following a great start to the season, the category achieved 76% clearance.

Central West NSW and South West Victoria were the two largest listing regions, offering 68,428 head between them, 21% of the overall catalogue. Together, the two regions listed 41% of the national offering of SIL Merino ewes and 18% of all Merino wether lambs. Western Queensland followed closely behind, listing 26,338 head. Clearance for the month of May dipped slightly, seeing 79% of the sheep and lambs sold, back only 4% from April.

With above average rainfall for the start of 2020, the Central West has continued to dominate purchasing this month, buying 26% of the catalogue. Of the 66,233 head returning to the region, 30% are Merino wether lambs as many people are capitalising on the abundant fresh feed and looking for a quick cash turnover. However, there are also signs the region is looking to rebuild flock numbers as they purchased 8,677 SIL Merino ewes. The Riverina and South West Slopes & Plains were the next largest purchasing regions, buying 42,995 and 21,524 head respectively.

The market shows no sign of slowing with prices holding relatively firm and some categories experiencing dearer market trends. There were 141,805 lambs offered in May, almost half of the overall offering for the month. Merino wether lambs and crossbred lambs accounted for 73% of all lambs listed online. Crossbred lambs were back only $2 on last month, averaging $182. Merino wether lambs sold to a strong demand, achieving 90% clearance for the 69,204 offered; their average increased again this month, up $3 to $157. Merino ewe lambs eased $15 to average $211, while First Cross Border Leicester/Merino ewe lambs averaged $281, up $5. Demand for breeders from restockers held firm through May as SIL Merino ewes averaged $291, up $11, and First Cross ewes averaged $367, easing $9.

CATTLE - Emma Fessey

The month of May saw 98,673 head of cattle offered online, an increase of over 32, 000 head from April. Queensland continues to dominate the state listings for the month, offering 35,583 head however is closely followed by NSW which saw a total yarding of 35,537, an increase of 11,518 from April. Southern and Western Queensland listings almost doubled compared to April, up 7,070 to total 15,322 head and up 4,103 to total 8,852 respectively.

Hungry to restock, Central West NSW remains the strongest purchasing region acquiring 14,096 head this month, closely followed by the North West Slopes & plains and Southern Queensland. The positive outlook for a wet winter across much of Australia has underpinned increased buyer confidence across the market with a 5% rise in clearance rates from April to average 85% across the cattle sales for the month of May.

Weaner and yearling steers and heifers accounted for 72% of the offerings online this month with prices increasing across the board. Queensland dominated the listings here, offering 26,581 head for sale, 46% of which hailed from Southern Queensland. Weaner and yearling heifers averaged 453c and 385c this month, an increase of 27c and 24c respectively from April. Weaner and yearling steers also sold a few cents dearer for May with prices increasing 5c and 12c respectively to average 476c for weaners and 397c for yearling and grown steers.

The restocking market continues to be buoyed by improved conditions as clearance rates amongst Cows with calves at foot reached 91% nationally whilst PTIC cows and heifers similarly saw an increase from April with 87% and 72% clearance, respectively. Cows with calves at foot sold $138 dearer this month, averaging $2,185. PTIC cows and heifers also increased from April, with cows selling for $47 more to average $1,932 whilst heifers rose by $120 to average $1,784.