Almost 36,000 sheep were penned at the Muchea Livestock Centre on Tuesday ” about 12,000 more than the previous record.
WA Meat Industry Authority chief executive Renata Paliskis said unfavourable weather forced many farmers to sell their lambs and wethers about three months earlier than usual.
‘It generally starts raining at the end of May and the rain is concentrated between May and October,’ she said.
‘However June was a real let-down when it is usually one of our wettest months and there was inadequate rain to promote significant pasture growth for stock to eat,’ Ms Paliskis said.
‘This is also the time sheep have lambs at foot, so it is all about fattening the lambs and giving the ewes enough food. But if you don’t have the grass you can’t feed the sheep.’
Ms Paliskis said the price of grain, about $400 a tonne, made it uneconomical for producers to handfeed sheep.
‘Many farmers looked at the lack of rain on the horizon and thought it better to sell while the sheep were in good condition,’ she said.
There were 35,767 sheep and lambs sold ” well in excess of the average of 14,000.
‘For producers to make the decision to sell their sheep so early was hard, but that was cushioned by the reasonable price for them.’