First published with The Courier –

Ballarat set a national record for the price of lamb during market day this week.

The Australian record of $256-a-head was set on Tuesday during the sale at the Ballarat Saleyards.

But experts believe the record price is unlikely to change to cost of lamb on your plate.

Landmark Ballarat auctioneer Xavier Shanahan said there was a high demand for lamb from Australian consumers and for export.

He said a shortage of lamb was making it hard for processors to fill their kill space.

“Processors are having to pay more than they would like to fill this space,” he said.

Mr Shanahan said it was hard to know the implications of the high sale price.

But he said the lambs sold at record high prices on Tuesday were cuts for export, not domestic sale and consumption.

So it is unlikely the price of your lamb will be affected.

“The lambs that make the biggest dollar and are the heaviest weight are export lambs, to be divided into different cuts and sent overseas,” he said.

Lambs used for domestic consumption are lighter, but Mr Shanahan said they too are selling for high prices.

“The whole industry is unpredictable.

“But it’s pretty clear we can’t expect to see these high sale prices all the time.

“This was a definite spike that realistically we won’t see a lot of,” he said.

John Harbour Quality Butchers owner John Harbour said lamb prices had been strong for the last 12 months, but have peaked recently.

“It is costing more to put lamb on the rail at the butcher shop.

“It means we have to be efficient in the way we butcher the meat to allow us to maintain prices or not move them too much.

“We’re about selling lamb for 12 months of the year. We don’t want people to go off buying lamb.

“On our domestic scene here, lamb prices have been high over the last 12 months. But those prices have not risen at the same rate as the heavier lambs for export.

“We produce the best lamb in the world in this country and we take it for granted how good lamb we have,” Mr Harbour said.

Mr Harbour said Ballarat is one of the prime lamb producing districts in Australia.

“Higher prices are not new to the industry. We have been operating with higher prices for nearly two years now.

“Local butchers will always have lamb readily available for local people,” Mr Harbour said.