Hot livestock markets have been keeping farmers warm as winter takes grip.

While the weather has been cold, the lamb market in particular is glowing.

As predicted, the magic $8/kg arrived in late June to put a smile on sheep farmers faces giving the best lamb returns since 2011.

Independent livestock agent and market commentator David Cotton said this has been followed by mutton prices rising to over the $5/kg mark.


"Such highs are putting some much-needed confidence back into the sheep industry," Cotton said.

"The only thing letting the sheep industry down is the wool price, which is not playing its part. A number of farmers have told me it now costs $3.50 to $4 a head to shear a lamb or ewe.

"No one is complaining about how much a shearer gets paid, but with next to no return to the farmer, in fact sometimes even a financial loss in shearing sheep, it just goes down in the animal welfare column on your balance sheet."

Store lambs shot back up again over the last two weeks after taking a short break in early June with most now making $3.60/kg to $4/kg liveweight. Scanned in-lamb ewes continue to sell strongly in recent weeks with the top cuts mated to a terminal sire cracking the $200 a head.

The cattle market remains solid, but does not have the spark of a year ago.

"The softening New Zealand dollar has helped keep the prime market stable which in turn has held the store trade at what I would call a stable market," Cotton said.