A LACK of ewe numbers and increased demand from interstate buyers for quality breeding stock is expected to underpin this year's off-shears selling season, with the state's livestock agents forecasting prices to potentially hit $300.
The Murray Bridge off-shears sale on Friday kicked off SA's season and backed up firm price predictions for breeding ewes, after a Vic bidder secured a line of Kamora Park-blood ewes for $274.
But today's 20,000-head feature ewe sale at Jamestown is expected to surpass Murray Bridge's top price and reach about $290 for young ewes, Nutrien Ag Solutions livestock agent Shannon Jaeschke forecasts.
"Young ewes have got plenty of growth in them and you will get what you pay for this year," he said.
"Those looking to restock or upgrade breeders will be active because the numbers coming in behind this sale will be limited."
Mr Jaeschke said despite a fall in lamb and wool prices, it had not affected the state's ram selling season and he expected off-shears prices to follow suit.
"Younger ewes should make about $220 and better breeders about $290 - older ewes will hold value and reach about $140 to $190," he said.
More than 7000 sheep and lambs will be offered across the two-part offering at the Pinnaroo off-shears sale on Friday and Elders Lameroo/Pinnaroo branch manager Jarryd Finch anticipated most producers would "stick with their usual buying behaviour".
"Producers will follow their programs - if the market continues to fall away in the next 12-18 months it could change but not just yet," he said.
"The wool job is down, but today's prices will not affect a producer's decision tomorrow."
In the Elders offering at Pinnaroo saleyard from 1pm, 2500 sheep and lambs will be yarded, with Mr Finch taking a "stab in the dark" for young ewes to make $280-$300.
"There are fewer ewes in the system - each year we also lose another sheep producer so prices should be on-par with last year because of the limited supply to bid on," he said.
Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn & Steen's off-shears sale at the Pinnaroo Showground at 2.30pm will offer 5000 sheep and lambs.
Agent Paul Kinnaird said with less feed pressure in most parts of SA and interstate, prices should "hold up".
"Young ewes will sell strongly and older ewes will also sell particularly well to further strengthen the mutton industry," he said.
The sale will be interfaced with StockLive and Mr Kinnaird foresaw young ewes hitting $300, with interstate interest expected to be the bulk of the buying power.
Close to 10,000 head will be yarded at Lameroo saleyard on October 9, with the Mallee's "big framed ewes" expected to also crack $300.
Nurtien Ag Lameroo agent Simon Aldridge hoped prices would be comparable to last year's sale.
"The Mallee is renowned for its large sheep and with the eastern states crying out for stock, the online platform should hold the sale up," he said.
"With the amount of feed across the border, I expect a lot of new buyers to be operating online this year - there is uncertainty about prices but the buyers will still be up and about."
Bordertown's sale on October 15 will offer a smaller, 4000-head yarding, because a few large runs of sheep that are ordinarily sold at the sale will be offered at Keith off-shears instead.
Spence Dix & Co Bordertown agent Kym Lovelock said interstate inquiry was high, with the sale's larger lines expected to be sold into Vic, but smaller lines could be discounted.
"Interstate buyers will be feed motivated, but local demand will most likely be driven by the need to secure better breeding stock," he said.
"Despite demand expected to outweigh supply, prices will be back."
The Keith Merino Breeders Association's annual off-shears sale will be held online and not in the saleyards on October 16.
KMBA chairman Haydn Lines said COVID-19 restrictions forced the decision to move online for the generally, well-attended sale.
The Cleve off-shears was on yesterday with results in next week's Stock Journal and Kapunda off-shears will be held on October 26.
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