Sheep market in great shape

Baa-rmy: It’s an exciting time for sheep and lamb producers, according to the MLA. Photo by Emma Carinci

The beginning of the 2022 saleyard selling year for sheep and lambs has exceeded all expectations when compared to long-term historical prices, says MLA.

Restocker lambs

Compared to the 10-year average for the month of January, the current National Restocker Lamb Indicator (NRLI) is priced 49 per cent or 292c/kg cwt higher than the 10-year average.

Clearly, the restocker market for producers selling into this avenue is extremely strong compared to long-term averages.

Quality restocker lambs continued to be valued at the saleyards, as the national flock’s growth continues to gain momentum on the back of the seasonal conditions.

Trade lambs

ForJanuary, the 10-year average price of the National Trade Lamb Indicator (NTLI) is 580c/kg cwt.

Meanwhile, the average price recorded for the month of January 2022 was 839c/kg cwt — an appreciation of 45 per cent or 258c/kg cwt on the 10-year average.

As the most traded lamb spec in the country, the current conditions for trade lambs compared to long-term averages are strong.

While this year’s yardings have remained softer than expected and prices have reacted accordingly, taking current prices into perspective with long-term averages reveals the exceptional market conditions producers have access to at present.


The National Mutton Indicator (NMI) average price for the month of January is 362c/kg cwt.

For January 2022, the average price was 577c/kg cwt — a figure 59 per cent or 215c/kg cwt stronger than the 10-year average.

While the NMI has softened compared to its heights of over 700c/kg cwt during 2021, its current price compared to the long-term average provides confidence to industry in the market’s short-to-medium-term performance.

Looking ahead

Comparing long-term prices to current market terms provides perspective on the current strength of the industry.

Looking ahead, the performance of the NTLI, NRSI and NMI will provide producers the security in knowing if prices soften, their overall return on sale of stock will remain elevated against the long-term performance of these specs of sheep and lambs.

While forecasts of larger yardings and volumes in the short term throughout the first half of 2022 may place downward pressure on the market, prices comparatively to the long term will remain favourable.