Supply and demand, and turnarounds in seasonal conditions, are driving the movement of stock from Western Australia to the eastern states.
Geoff Rice of AWN Langlands Hanlon in Parkes said after years of drought, producers are understocked but have been challenged in coming to grips with the current value of livestock.
“People have access to finance, but, in a lot of cases, they still need to get their heads around what it costs to restock. With numbers so low, you need 750 head, not 150, and it takes a bit to comprehend,’’ he said.
“Many have been waiting to see what happens at the end of Spring, but it has just been getting greener, which is a good thing. Everybody has feed and is now confident they can get through to the end of summer, driving demand. There are some who will wait until the end of January to see if prices ease after the hot weather, but there’s a bulk of feed out there which will get us through until Autumn.
“This increased demand has seen stock coming over from Western Australia in big numbers. The demand is going to remain due to the undersupply, to the extent where we will be continuing to bring stock from Western Australia and Queensland to bridge the gap.’’
According to Geoff, the changing face of droughts is seeing people more inclined to transport stock long distances to enable them to trade.
“Croppers are going back into livestock and they are looking at trade stock not breeding stock due to the shortages. I think the demand will increase further once the harvest is done. With money in the bank and feed assured through to Autumn, it will be a case of game on.
“It is now up to us to find the numbers to fill the orders. In Western Australia there are concerns about the lack of groundwater going into summer. You can buy feed but you can’t buy water. I would be very surprised if there’s too many sheep coming from there, which are getting a two-way trip as people restock or trade them over here.
“The facts are our numbers are down, the ewes are coming over, being joined and traded.’’
This is a far cry from 12 months ago when the eastern states were in a world of pain due to drought, however the turnaround in the seasons has created huge demand for livestock.
“Merino wether lambs are as dear as poison, and while crossbred lambs have been up and down they are still very dear. However, everything has continued to get better feed-wise, so I hope people have gotten their heads around the values as I believe it’s time to go,’’ Geoff said.
“The Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is saying the demand will continue, which provides confidence, but, of course, there is still a level buyers won’t go above as there has to be value at the other end. The wool market is back, but I’ve seen it a lot worse and we would hope we are over the worst of it and looking for a turnaround in the next six to 12 months.
“All these things provide confidence for buyers. You’ve only got to look at Merino wether lambs which are now more of a meat sheep than ever and are competing more heavily. Not many wethers now go past the two-tooth stage. They are more muscled and carry more weight and people are prepared to trade in them for a quick turnaround.
“I can see the market staying where it is for quite some time and that is a good thing for livestock producers.’’
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