The livestock markets have hit the traditional slowdown period, giving farmers time to reflect on the season and what may be in store for the immediate future. The markets traditionally quieten down over late September/early October and the last of the old season lambs are being killed with an eye on their teeth coming up which can halve their value overnight. So few traders are in the market to buy store lambs as time runs out on the 2016/17 season.
"I feel an air of confidence returning to the sheep and beef industry. Beef is stable, although not at the real highs seen in recent years but a good, solid market. Interest rates remain low and the mutton market is way up over $4.30kg."Farmers are trying to get crops or new grass in, dancing around all the wet weather, but it has not been cold with ground temperatures on the rise, the grass is growing and spring is definitely in the air. Looking back at the season, independent Whanganui livestock commentator David Cotton noticed the lamb market did not drop back to the predicted $4.50kg pre-Christmas. "It did drop just under $5 for a short time with some meat companies, but this was short lived as the rain kept coming over the summer and farmers with grass is always a good way to keep the markets up," Mr Cotton said. "I looked up the market reports/predictions printed in February, which said the lamb schedule looked likely to rise to $5.25 in July, in fact it was over $6.60kg, so how easy it is to get predictions wrong. "I feel an air of confidence returning to the sheep and beef industry. Beef is stable, although not at the real highs seen in recent years but a good solid market. Interest rates remain low and the mutton market is way up over $4.30kg. This time last year it was $2.85, so put into per head dollar terms they were $77 compared with $117 this season. "There are some good lamb contracts on offer with set price or minimum price being offered for spring lambs, which I won't publish due to confidentiality agreements, but talk to your livestock agent/buyer - I think you will be pleasantly surprised. "Then there is the wool market, but I say three positives out of four is not bad, our glass is more than half full," he said. The store cattle market remains strong with the lack of numbers available both in sale yards or private sales helping hold the store values up. "The spring this year is going to be a busy one for real estate agents with some very good farms hitting the market," Mr Cotton said, putting his rural real estate hat on. "In some districts the number of farm listings are up three-fold with confidence back in the sheep and beef industry, the dairy payout up and the banks actively looking to lend money. "I expect to see some very good sale results reported pre-Christmas."