Sheep and lamb prices have continued their downward trajectory as increased throughput at saleyards puts pressure on the market. Sheep and lamb yardings are continuing to lift, with lamb numbers reaching 180,303 head last week. The light lamb indicator numbers increased by 9,500 head. This increase in throughput, combined with reduced activity at the saleyards, has continued to dampen prices, bringing the indicator down to 405c. Forbes contributed 13pc of the indicator throughput and was only 6c above the national average, while Dubbo, contributing 11pc was 34c below the national average. Merino lambs have also eased 60c to 404c, with trade lambs down 51c to 518c. Episode 3 market analyst Matt Dalgleish said last week there was about nearly 50 per cent more mutton at the yards and 20pc more lamb. "It feels like maybe people were holding off for the normal price increases that you see through winter and it's not eventuated so they've decided to cut and run so to speak," he said. "The price behaviour is understandable considering some of the stronger levels of turnoff we've seen this week. "It doesn't correspond with what we're seeing with demand at the end destination though. "It also doesn't correspond with what we're seeing in regard to the weather. "Even though the Bureau of Meteorology has been saying we're going to get a dry winter, it hasn't eventuated yet and we're just seeing now that there's more rain coming across through the middle of the country." MORE READING: The downward price trend at the saleyards mirrors declining sheep meat export pricing which peaked at $11/kg in mid-2022 but then dropped to around $8/kg during the first few months of 2023 through until the end of April. Retail prices for lamb remain high, but Mr Dalgleish said that could change soon. "It's not uncommon for retail prices to lag behind what's happening in the actual livestock markets," he said. "Those softening prices through the supply chain tend to be slower to be passed down than rising prices. "For the first quarter of this year we did see at a retail level some very slight declines in retail pricing but nowhere near the magnitude we've seen at the saleyard yet." The winter maintenance period for processors has also meant a softening in sheep and lamb slaughter. In NSW lamb slaughter dropped by 33 per cent to reach the state's lowest weekly lamb slaughter since the end of 2021, while Victoria also saw a drop in lamb slaughter to 177,641 head. Sheep slaughter also eased to 132,687 head.