WHILE agents aren't expecting any outlandish prices in the coming offshears sales, they believe the $350 paid for Merino ewe hoggets at Karoonda last week is a good indication that prices could rise $20 to $30 across the board on last year.
Close to 4000 Merino and Dohne ewes and ewe lambs were yarded at Karoonda by Spence Dix & Co, with 15-month-old Merino ewes peaking at $350 - $11 shy of the state saleyard record.
The sale has set the benchmark for coming Murraylands, Mallee and South East off-shears sales - last year's highs were $342 at Keith, $340 at Lameroo, $310 at Pinnaroo and $274 at Murray Bridge.
Nutrien livestock agent Simon Aldridge expects total yardings at Pinnaroo on September 17 and Lameroo on October 8 to be slightly up on last year, with the sheep job performing better than at the same time in 2020.
"I'd be expecting prices to be slightly above last year's returns across the board," he said. "From speaking to people interstate, the demand from the east coast and also the Broken Hill, NSW, area could play a part this year.
"We haven't seen any demand out of there for years and we're getting people inquiring about our sales already, which bodes well.
"There should be more widespread buying demand than there has been in recent years."
Mr Aldridge said up until six weeks ago, he would have predicted a wane in local demand due to a dry start to the season, but the outlook had improved due to scattered rain throughout June and July.
"The season is looking a lot better across SA than it was six weeks ago, so there should be similar buying interest than that in previous years because there just isn't sheep out there," he said.
"Six weeks ago, it was looking like there wouldn't be much local interest at all."
PPHS agent Paul Kinnaird is expecting about 5000 ewes in his agency's sale at Pinnaroo this year, also scheduled for September 17.
"I think prices will be quite high - $300 to $340 could be quite common and prices across the board could be $20 to $30 dearer than last year - but I'm not sure if we'll see many equal or surpass the $350 at Karoonda," he said.
Mr Kinnaird expected breeding ewes to be strong performers this year, with producers looking to build numbers back up after a few tough seasons.
"A lot of older ewes - four and five-year-olds - went to the meatworks earlier in the year because the season was tight, so that will up competition on the breeding market because numbers are lower," he said.
"The mutton job is performing strongly as well, so that will put a strong floor in the older ewe market."
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.