OPTIMISM in sheep producers is running high after recent record prices and despite a dry summer meaning there is a lack of fodder on the ground.
Griffith set a then-national record $318 in August 2018 for grain-fed prime lambs, with increasing prices at the end of last year a reward for the time and money producers were putting into their lambs.
However, this peak overshadowed what has been the consistent - and strong - prices producers have been getting over the last six to 12 months.
Manager of Spencer & Bennett Yenda Producers, Wayne Spencer, said producers are still getting as much as they ever have been for lambs.
"The quality of most lambs at the moment is exceptionally good," Mr Spencer said.
"There are some showing signs of the drought, which is to be expected, but most lambs and breeding ewes are being supplementary fed.
"Going forward the market looks very promising. If producers can continue to feed their stock the rewards will be there."
"Everyone's trying to get through until this season breaks. The outlook after that is going to be good."Wayne Spencer, manager, Spencer & Bennett Yenda Producers
Reflecting this sentiment, the National Livestock Reporting Service recorded a big yarding of 17,300 sheep and lambs at the Griffith market on March 29. In what is an indicative trend for the region, trade weight lambs were $4 to $9 a head dearer, despite the bigger numbers and seasonal conditions.
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It seems contradictory that harsh, dry conditions should produce such optimism in an agricultural industry.
"We saw record prices in August, September last year of around $8 to $9.50 per kilo, which was unheard of," Mr Spencer said.
"Then the drought started affecting us hard and brought numbers into the market, which in turn brought the prices back. But lucky enough the market was still strong.
"I believe in the months to come there will be some shortage of lambs and we may see these, or close too, prices again."
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Mr Spencer said there was extra luck in that most producers had not had to de-stock completely, with the majority working hard to hold onto core breeders.
"This coming grain and hay season will have a huge impact on numbers, as most grain and hay sheds are empty or close to," he said.
"If they can not put supplies back in for their livestock this year there may be a lot more to sell."
Although numbers for lamb and mutton sheep will be down in the coming season the outlook for the market looks promising as supply and demand come into effect.
"The sheep industry is as good as we have seen it, with prime lambs making record prices and the wool market extremely good, and that looks to continue," Mr Spencer said.
"The only downside at the moment is the availability of feed supplies, the cost of those supplies and the relentless chore of feeding day after day."
Mr Spencer paid credit to those producers that have stayed in the livestock industry.
"Everyone's trying to get through until this season breaks," he said. "The outlook after that is going to be good."