TOUGH TIMES: Cattle prices took a hit last winter.
TOUGH TIMES: Cattle prices took a hit last winter. Michael Nolan

Lamb price a highlight but pigs and cattle took a hit

IT WAS a big year at the saleyards in 2018, with prime lamb reaching record-high prices while pig and cattle prices took a hit.

Sale agents were "gobsmacked” when lambs reached never seen prices at the Warwick Saleyards in July.

Warwick-based meat wholesaler Pat McMahon paid $230 for prime lambs as a region-wide shortage pushed prices up to record levels.

Mr McMahon bought the pen of 13 grain-fed lambs weighing 47.9kg from Stanthorpe's Rob and Marg Tulloch.

McDougall and Sons agent David Maher said 2018 was one of the best for lamb prices.

"The demand was there for the end lamb product and the supply wasn't keeping up at one stage and that's the result,” Mr Maher said.

But it wasn't all smashing records this year, as Mr Maher said pig prices struggled all year but saw a slight increase towards Christmas.

"The biggest issue is the cost of grain and cost of water. The water is in short supply then they're a fairly labour intensive operation, they take up a lot of water,” he said.

"High grain prices and low price for the end product, for a lot of people it's not sustainable.”

Mr Maher said winter hit cattle hard.

"People were unloading cattle they wouldn't normally sell because you couldn't source hay or reasonably priced feed anywhere close,” he said.

"That drives the price down for the cattle in the saleyards because there's more cattle.”

Mr Maher still considered 2018 a successful year.

"Any year you survived the year and come out making a dollar at the end, you mark that as successful,” he said.

Sales resume next week.