Thursday, December 8, 2022

Sheep market in best shape for a decade

Recent stories

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), The Weekly, 27 January 2022

Key points:

  • Sheep and lamb prices are currently performing well above long-term historical averages 
  • Concerns around prices and the softening of the market can be put into perspective when using long term averages 
  • The positivity and confidence for the short to medium term these prices provide producers is exciting for the industry.

The beginning of the 2022 saleyard selling year for sheep and lambs has exceeded all expectations when compared to long-term historical prices, demonstrating the excellent market conditions producers are currently experiencing.  

Restocker lambs  

Compared to the 10-year average for the month of January, the current National Restocker Lamb Indicator (NRLI) is priced 49% 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 

For the month of January, 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% 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 very 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% or 215c/kg cwt stronger than the 10-year average.  

Whilst 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. As a result, this is an exciting time for sheep and lamb producers across the country.   



Sign up to the Australian Rural & Regional News weekly newsletter

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.