RECORD lamb prices at December markets have filled local lamb producers with confidence leading into 2018.
The market finished 2017 in a strong position with lamb reaching $7 a kilogram (carcase weight) in some parts of the state.
Breeza Plains sheep farmer Sarah Sulman said current lamb prices were very pleasing.
“It’s really good for this time of year,” Ms Sulman said.
“We try to take a pen to the Tamworth market every week and we have seen some pens get up to $200 a pen, which is great.”
Ms Sulman said the current prices have encouraged her family to buy more lambs.
“We have actually just bought another 300 lambs,” she said.
“It takes our total now to about 1500 head.
“Sheep can be high maintenance at times, but as has been the case recently, they do deliver a good profit.”
Gunnedah sheep farmer Greg Stones said there are several factors that can affect lamb prices.
“It’s [the lamb market] a bit fickle sometimes and it does go up and down,” Mr Stones said.
“The market was stable enough in 2017 but it can depend a lot on what the dollar is doing, what the weather conditions are and for us large numbers coming to market from the south have the most impact.”
Mr Stones said he will face similar challenges on the farm in 2018.
“Foxes will be a huge challenge again this year,” he said.
“Last year, between baiting and hunting, I think we killed somewhere in the region of 200 foxes.”
The Gunnedah farmer said dealing with foxes would take a collective effort from the community.
“Every lambing season we can expect to loose some lambs due to foxes because they will just keep picking them off during the season” he said.
“It does help when people around you bait or shoot foxes.”
Gunnedah stock agent David Henry said current lamb prices could prompt other local farmers to invest in sheep.
“It ticks a lot of boxes,” he said.
“The price of lamb has been consistent for a long time, at least the past 12 months to two years and the price of wool has been strong as well.
“I think you might see some local producers diversify into sheep in the future.”
The Davidson and Cameron stock agent said the Tamworth sheep market had delivered good returns to sheep farmers recently.
“The best I think I’ve seen there is probably about $6.80 a kilogram for lamb,” he said.
"Mutton prices have also delivered at Tamworth recently with I think $5 a kilogram being the best I’ve seen.”
Mr Henry said weather conditions will make an impact on future lamb prices but producers should feel confident.
“Prices can be purely seasonal sometimes,” he said.
“The weather will obviously have a big impact on future prices but the strength of the market is widespread through NSW and Victoria and lamb producers should be feeling reasonably confident in their sheep.”
Tamworth will host its next weekly sheep sale on Monday, January 8.