Sheep Industry News December 2023

since late-summer providing support for the cutout value. The loin and rack are holding steady with values at or above the five-year average. SUPPLY DISCUSSION Through most of October and into November, weekly lamb and yearling slaughter levels have been around 33,000 to 34,000 head per week, about 8 to 9 percent (2,500 to 3,000 head per week) above last year. Year-to date through October, weekly lamb and yearling slaugh ter has been averaging about 3 percent higher than the same period in 2022. The higher pace of lamb and year ling slaughter has likely been influenced by an economic incentive evidenced by counter seasonally higher values for the lamb cutout and slaughter lamb prices. Moving more lambs through the supply chain has led to weekly dressed weights tracking lower than typical levels leading to recent weeks below 60 pounds. Year-to date through October, weekly lamb and mutton produc tion has been about 2.5 percent below the same period last year, which is likely due to lower dressed weights more than offsetting higher slaughter levels. IMPORTS & COLD STORAGE Cold storage stocks in September – the most recent month available – were 26.1 million pounds, identical to the prior month and 15 percent below the same month last year. Lamb and mutton imports were 20.7 million pounds in September, down 10 percent from the prior month and 13 percent below the previous year. Comparatively, lower imports and cold storage stocks from last year are indicators that supplies are not build ing and demand is keeping pace with production. Sea sonally, the five-year average indicates that cold storage stocks are typically drawn down during the fourth quar ter and imports can rise in response to demand during the holiday season. WOOL MARKET UPDATE After three consecutive weeks of a lower number of bales offered, the first week of November saw a jump in bales offered to 44,378 – the highest since early Septem ber. The Eastern Market Indicator continues to trade below the prior years’ levels. Through October and into early-November, the EMI has tracked 11 to 14 percent below levels seen at this time last year. Current EMI levels are some of the lowest in nearly three years. Across the microns, weekly prices were holding relatively steady through October, but at

the start of November, prices faltered slightly. Prices for 17- to 20-micron wool were seeing improvement late in October, but turned lower at the start of November. The last several weeks have seen prices for 21- to 29-micron wool struggle to gain solid footing with prices generally trending lower. Prices for Merino cardings have been relatively flat for several weeks, but compared to the prior year, weekly levels are down upwards of 20 percent.

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December 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 7

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