Experts say farmers are taking an opportunity to sell stock while prices are relatively high, and before water and feed begins to run out as the region continues its dry spell
Many farms received no rainfall at all last month and those that did mostly reported less than 1mm.
Sheep prices rose accordingly in the middle of last month, with sheep and lamb yardings climbing 50 per cent from January 14 to 21.
They remained relatively high at last Monday’s sale.
In recent weeks, up to 20,000 sheep and lambs have sold to full fields of buyers.
The record yarding at Muchea was on July 9 last year when more than 35,700 sheep went under the hammer because dry winter conditions had forced farmers to quit stock.
The WA Meat Industry Authority ( WAMIA), the body that oversees the Muchea saleyards, said despite the recent sales, this year’s outlook was much more positive.
Ewes dominated the yarding last week, with increased quality in the heavy weight categories.
Heavy weight mutton fetched $57 to $75 while heavy lambs sold at a top of $130 a head.
A spokesman for WAMIA said the sheep and lamb numbers were up by about 12,000 sheep compared with the same time last year.
‘All the sheep we are getting are in a lot better nick than last year,’ he said.
‘We approach the quieter season soon and it won’t pick up again until the weaners start coming in around April or May.’
The spokesman said ‘a whole range of factors’ could affect the yarding numbers ” from weather to prices and ‘even when the Eagles were playing a home game’.
Muchea Livestock Centre manager Lyndon Henning said sellers were wising up to the best times to sell.
‘Before the stock run out of water and feed, and while the prices are up, the farmers are taking the opportunity to sell,’ he said.