The Sheep Deer and Cattle Report: Wool prices retain price levels but all meat schedules fall sharply


More big falls for lamb schedules as the Christmas chilled market has passed and frozen processing follows, in a market still carrying too much stock.

Some commentators predict falls of over a $1/kg CWT by Christmas and with the colder weather in the south slowing animals to finish, weights could also be back.

Saleyard prime lambs are now easing back with the export market, helped by a local trade schedule drop of 20-30c/kg cwt and a slowly increasing supply.

Early seasons store lambs are appearing in the South Island eastern areas short of feed, and are being sold at rates $10-$20/hd behind last year, adding further to the financial burden of dry land farmers but better feed conditions in the north has seen prices $20/head better.

The two big processors have announced their annual results with Silver Fern Farms leading Alliance in the profit race by a considerable margin, especially considering how much debt was repaid.

Debt reduction is the area where Silver Fern Farms has made the most progress with equity now ahead of its Co-Operative counterpart after years being branded with a big mortgage laden tag.

With a bigger share of sheep meat processing and less beef capacity Alliance was not able to balance the differing market prospects like its main competitor, and with the new Chinese partnership deal looming, prospects look tough for the southern Co-Operative.

Alliance is championing a clear new strategy for the future, but poor early seasons prospects for frozen lamb and sheep numbers still falling does not help create a quick profit turn around.

The latest North Island wool auction saw a near full clearance of crossbred wools as Chinese interest awakened, the currency weakened, and indicators lifted by 9c/kg clean.

Local shearing contractors applauded the quality of pre lamb wools they have handled this year, but express concern at interruptions in their shearers work flow, caused by the lack of merino wethers now being farmed.

More falls in beef schedules as weak market signals from the US driven by the last of the quota volumes arriving at ports,  volumes processed increasing, and southern farmers destock for the approaching dry, all affect market confidence.

Manufacturing cow and bull prices are now below where they were last year causing some nervousness, but one bank analysts study of the US beef market situation is optimistic for a turn around next year.

In the saleyards prime steer prices are also easing as more animals reach target weights and the local trade schedules follow the export falls.

The regulatory environmental changes that have had a huge impact on the dairy sectors cost structure, are now entering the sheep and beef farmers domain, and managers need to consider the implications especially as they intensify their stocking systems.

Demand for quality dairy weaners in the North Island has been maintained as more animals are offered for sale with beef cross genes attracting the best premiums.

Less dairy calves have been harvested for bobby veal suggesting more have been reared or culled pre calving in the cow, so later sales of weaners may reveal how the present lower bull schedule will have on demand.


More venison frozen production schedule falls this week but prices are still about $35/hd ahead of last year and with demand from now a diverse range of markets,  prospects look good for a continuing revival for venison.

The older stags velvet harvest is nearly at it’s peak and the potential of young stags heads soon to be revealed, as this sectors heavy investment in superior genetics has lifted per head production significantly.

Deer Industry NZ reveals the velvet excise tax removal as a result of the free trade agreement with Korea will encourage buyers from that country to source more product direct from NZ.