The Sheep, Deer and Cattle Report: Drought breaking rains in many regions sets up farms for good autumn pasture growth


More lifts in lamb schedules this week, as demand remains firm in all main markets, and the slower kill and lower numbers has kept procurement pressure strong.

Helpful currency falls have also lifted prospects, and with wool prices lifting off the bottom, the market looks more positive for lamb than it was a month ago.

Processing numbers are starting to build as we move into the autumn, but with February figures showing the lamb kill was over 11% behind, there is plenty of lambs to kill yet.

As the season changes and contracts run out, it seems spot schedules are revealing a clearer picture of the present market, and Silver Fern Farms lead the way with big lifts for all of its red meat products.

Rams are going out in the early areas, and recent rains will ensure strong autumn grass growth will see most animals going into the winter on a rising plane of nutrition.

Store lambs are now trading in the $80’s, which on present schedules will make margins net of costs thin, and traders will be hoping for good lifts in prices over the winter.

Demand is also strong for store ewes, as the prospect of autumn feed has allowed managers to restock breeding numbers again.

Prime lambs sold at the saleyards are firming in price as export and local trade prices lift, and values are now 60c/kg cwt ahead of the same stage last year for butchers lambs.



This week’s South Island auction maintained the present upward lift in wool prices, and all cross bred indicators rose again by 21-29c/kg clean.

Previously passed wool will now be carefully placed back onto the marke,t as the lower currency makes wool stocks price competitive again.

NZ Merino is starting to get into building value in the crossbred sector, and recently helped form a small group of farmers market their 25,000 bales  of wool.

Helped by a PGP initiative they are looking to use their past success in the fine wool sector, and apply it to crossbred wool.


Good lifts for all beef classes this week, as Silver Fern Farms makes an aggressive price stand for product.

Prime bull prices lifted the most due to a large adjustment by Silver Ferns South Island schedules and with more dairy/beef bobbies getting reared this year, finishing entire animals is getting more popular.

Processing plants are filling with prime stock as managers quit older animals in preparation for weaner replacements, whose sales have started in the north.

The early sales received per kg prices behind last year, although it appears weights are heavier, per head prices better, and lots selling for over $1000/head were not uncommon.

The following sales saw prices at or about last years record levels, but analysts reported buyers were careful not to pay too much for top lines, preferring to punt a bit more on lighter animals.

Prime saleyard steers have held their value well even as more animals go on the market, but as yet the traditional price fall off of replacement18 month store steers as the weaner calf sales start, has yet to eventuate.


More venison schedules rises, as companies compete strongly for a reduced supply of product.

There is some nervousness by exporters amid uncertainty re Brexit, Europe, and Trump’s influence on future trade. But given that the volumes are small, the present price levels appears sustainable.

The Chinese audit of the velvet supply chain did reveal some areas that need addressing before next year’s harvest – in shed hygiene, traceability and cold storage integrity.

While industry officials report underlying demand for velvet into Korea remains strong, this week’s political upheaval in that country could unsettle confidence.