MERINO wethers sold for more than $200 at Guyra and lamb prices continued to climb in saleyards this week as tightening supplies were restricted further by rain across northern New South Wales.
At the Guyra saleyards on Wednesday, Davidson Cameron auctioneer Terry Williams sold 234 large framed mainly 3-4 year-old prime September shorn Merryville blood wethers for up to $203, setting a record for the sale centre.
The wethers were estimated at around 25kg cwt with a fleece valued at about $15-$20, putting them at around 700c/kg cwt for the buyer Fletcher International Exports. Vendor Graham Marshall at ‘Come-by-chance’ west of Guyra said his wether consignment sold for $197-$234, averaging about $200 a head, double his best price last year, but he’s not thinking about a holiday.
“I might have to pay off a bit of debt first.
“I’ve just been hanging on, hanging on,” he said.
“Last year I had no feed, no water, but I kept hanging on and as the feed came I got the condition on them under difficult conditions.”
He estimated the 17.5 micron wethers would cut about four kilograms of wool in full wool, worth about 1400-1500c/kg greasy.
Mr Marshall said he still had 300-400 in the paddock to sell but he doubted mutton prices could hold at current levels.
“These are unreal prices.”
Davidson Cameron & Co territory sales manager Chris Johnstone said apart from overall low flock numbers, the recent widespread rain has pulled up supply, especially across northern New South Wales.
“Certainly northern New South Wales is set up for one of the best entries into winter that we’ve had for a number of years.”
Lamb prices continue to climb
Keen domestic, export and restock lamb enquiry lifted rates again mid-week as buyers scramble for supply in expectation of tighter winter offerings.
Elders Wagga auctioneer Joe Wilks said store and feeder lambs were $20 dearer yesterday as supplies tightened.
“I think they are just not in the paddock eating grass.”
He said domestic processors are pushing heavier with orders to get numbers and exporters were going into lighter weight categories, driving trade and heavy lamb prices.
At Ballarat, TB White and Sons auctioneer Leo White said all exporters were strong this week, with top extra heavy lambs making to $240. He said exporters were “pushing down” with their purchases, making it harder for domestic buyers on the 23-25kg cwt lambs.
“There is just a shortage of lambs and that has been evident since early January.”
Mr White said store lambs at $100-$120 were too dear for many restockers earlier in the season.
“We were actually the opposite, we went harder – we’ve put out more lambs than we’ve ever put out since we’ve been going.
“We’ve had a great season and we went with it.”
He said the tight supplies of sheep and lambs have been partially due to producers in difficult season this time last year having to slaughter ewes in lamb across South Australia and northern Victoria.
“Those numbers are not there – it gets back to the point that they weren’t bred.”
Mr White doesn’t expect lamb and mutton rates to get much dearer going into winter.
Grid indicators continue upward
The NLRS said widespread rain across the eastern seaboard last week helped lift over-the-hook lamb and mutton indicators this week, compounding the impact of a smaller 2016 lamb crop and an already tight sheep supply. The performance of these indicators for the year-to-date has been the highest since MLA began reporting, with NSW, Victoria and SA trade lambs (18-22kg cwt) averaging 599c/kg, 627c/kg and 602c/kg cwt, respectively, so far this year.
After Thursday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs were: restocker 769c/kg, up 16 cents; Merino 627c/kg, up 8c; light 687c/kg, up 8c; trade 681c/kg, up 11c; heavy 671c/kg, up 4c. The ESDI for mutton rose 3 cents to 489c/kg.
Carcoar’s restocker lambs jump $15
In New South Wales at the Carcoar saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6150 lambs, 950 fewer than last week, and 2675 sheep, 825 less.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said it was a plainer quality yarding, made up of mostly trade lambs and light weights. The usual buyers operated.
Light weight lambs sold firm to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $77-$123. Trade lambs were $2-$5 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores making $122-$170 and averaging 685-700c/kg cwt.
The few heavy lambs sold at similar rates, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $168-$178. A single pen of trade weight Merino lambs sold for $126. Lambs sold up to $15 dearer to restockers, with the better types making $94-$130. Feeder lambs sold to $138. Hoggets sold to $156.
The mostly plain quality yarding of sheep include a very limited number properly finished mutton. Light and medium weight sheep were up to $12 dearer and the heavier weight crossbreds were $6 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $34-$105. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds made $90-$150 and Merinos made to $120. Merino wethers sold to $134.
Yass trade lambs $5-$8 dearer
At the South East Livestock Exchange at Yass on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5000 lambs, 200 more than last week, and 6500 sheep, 100 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to good, with only a small run of well-finished trade weights. Heavy lambs were limited, but there were plenty of secondary lambs which attracted strong competition from restockers. All the usual buyers operated in the dearer market.
Restocking lambs sold from $90-$151. The medium and heavy trade lambs were $5-$8 dearer at $132-$158, averaging 670c/kg. Heavy lambs sold from $165-$184 to average 650-665c/kg. A pen of extra heavy lambs estimated at 28kg cwt made $200. The best of the heavy hoggets sold to $160.
Sheep quality was very mixed, but there were some well-covered lines. Prices lifted $10-$15. Medium weights sold from $84-$125. Heavy crossbred ewes sold to $150 and Merino wethers made to $149. Most averaged around 500c/kg.
Cootamundra mutton lifts $15
At the Cootamundra saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 3600 lambs, 700 more than two weeks ago, and 1000 sheep, 200 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was good. Trade lambs were well-supplied and there was a good run of heavy weights. Light store lambs were in very short supply. All the usual buyers operated in the dearer market.
Light restocking lambs made to $73. Medium and heavy trade lambs were $11-$16 dearer at $137-$158, averaging 670c/kg. Heavy lamb prices rose a similar amount to $165-$188. Extra heavy lambs sold to $200. The top pen of hoggets made $155.
Sheep quality improved and prices lifted by $15 on average. Medium weights sold from $72-$127 and the heavy crossbred ewes made to $165. Most averaged around 520c/kg.
Guyra wethers to $203
At the Guyra saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2360 lambs, 2020 fewer than last week, and 2100 sheep, 440 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was not quite as good, with fewer heavy and extra heavy weights. Lambs suitable for restockers also varied in quality. The usual buyers attended. Market trends were dearer in all categories; however, some average prices were affected by quality.
Lambs sold to restockers were slightly dearer, with premiums paid for well-bred second cross lines. There was a fair supply of light weight first cross lambs. Well-finished trade weight lambs averaged $2 dearer, with odd sales more. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs sold up to $8 dearer.
Condition and weight varied greatly in the fair to very good penning of sheep. Most sheep had good length fleeces, with values high for the Merino skins. Demand was extreme across all types regardless of condition or weight. Records were set with medium and heavy Merino wethers averaging $42-$49 dearer. The top price of $203 was $60 dearer. The well-finished ewes followed a similar trend; however, the price gains were not as high. Plain condition ewes also attracted strong price increases.
Wagga lambs $10 dearer
At the Wagga Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 34,000 lambs, 2000 more than last week, and 7000 sheep, 1200 more.
The NLRS said there was a good number of heavy lambs, and a very good selection of mostly shorter skinned trade lambs. The usual export and domestic buyers operated at a frantic pace.
Shorn well-shaped trade lambs ignited the bidding, with major processors struggling to capture adequate supplies, pushing prices $10 dearer on well-finished lines. Most trade lambs sold from $134-$186.20, averaging 721c/kg. Many trade buyers then shifted their focus to Merino trade lambs, with most grades selling dearer. Medium and heavy Merino trade lambs sold for $148-$178.
There was a mixed selection of secondary lambs and restockers drove the market up to $13 higher. Store lambs with some frame made $112-$141, to average $127.80.
Heavy lambs were well-supplied and quality was excellent, with most finished on grain. They sold from $173-$194. Most extra heavy lambs sold for $182-$246.20 to average 670c/kg.
A larger group of buyers bid on the mixed quality sheep yarding. Heavy sheep were contested strongly. Prices in general lifted $8-$15, up to $190.20 and averaging 499c/kg. Trade sheep made from $94-$150. Light sheep sold from $55-$95.20.
Hamilton lambs $3-$7 dearer
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 14,030 lambs, 1294 fewer than last week, and 8936 sheep, 180 more.
The NLRS said all the regular buyers attended the mixed quality yarding, which varied in quality from average to very good. Most agents’ runs contained some good quality drafts of heavy weight and heavy-medium trade weights ideal for slaughter, suiting export and domestic markets. Light lambs continued to flow into the selling centre, creating some spirited bidding.
Most lambs sold $3-$7 dearer. Restockers from South Australia, Ballarat and locally paid mostly $100-$141 for well-bred stores. Light weight 2 scores lambs made $112-$130 and light trade weights lambs 2 and 3 score made $129-$136, averaging 690-700c/kg.
Medium trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $134-$169 and heavy trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs made $154-$176, or 621-735c/kg to average 670-680c/kg. Heavy weight lambs 3 and 4 scores sold from $175-$200 and extra heavy 4 scores made $210-$220, or 640-660c/kg. Medium trade-heavy trade weight unshorn lambs sold from $131-$160 and heavy hoggets made $152.
All different weights and grades of sheep were offered and met strong demand. Light and medium weight sheep sold firm to $5 dearer and heavy mutton made $5-$10 more than last week. Very light 1 score sheep sold from $34-$70 and the light weight 1 and 2 scores made $74-$110.
Medium trade weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $102-$118. Merino ewes in full wool made to $132, 417-530c/kg. The Merino mutton averaged around 500c/kg. Heavy 3-4 score crossbred ewes sold from $122-$177 and crossbred wethers made $132-$186. Medium weight Merino wethers made $100-$126 and heavy wethers sold from $130-$160, averaging 500-510c/kg. Heavy rams of all breeds made 103-$148.
Horsham trade lambs lift $10
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 12,924 lambs, 2924 more than last week, and 1550 sheep, 485 more.
The NLRS said lamb supply lifted as there is no sale next week due to the Easter break. Quality was very good with well-presented heavier trade weights and heavy lambs in reasonable numbers.
The best extra heavy lambs sold to $236, with 25 pens selling above $200. Heavier trade weights sold from $156-$175 and averaged around 675c/kg cwt. Lambs continue to sell to strong demand, with the better covered trade weights making up to $10 more than last week. Unshorn lambs sold to $220.
Heavy Merino lambs sold from $152-$175, with the medium weights making $129-$146. Restockers competed with processors for restocker lambs, which mostly made $111-$121. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $109-$114. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $118-$153 and averaged around 690c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $146-$175, or 640-710c/kg, averaging around 675c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $170-$212 and extra heavy export lambs made $190-$236. Heavy hoggets made to $169.
The sheep yarding included several pens of heavy crossbred and Merino ewes. They sold to keen competition to be dearer in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $70-$93. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $100-$136, or 430-540c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 505c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $131-$150, heavy Merino wethers made to $138.50 and the medium weights sold from $100-$129, averaging around 500c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep sold from $143-$164 and heavy rams made to $130.
Ouyen lambs $5-$10 dearer
At the Ouyen Livestock Exchange on Wednesday, the agents yarded Ouyen Livestock Exchange 12,508 lambs and 2580 sheep.
All weights and grades of quality lambs were quoted $5-$10 dearer.
Another large consignment of mutton sold to strong competition and last week’s high prices continued, with heavy sheep selling for up to $170, $15 dearer than at the previous sale.
Crossbred export weight lambs sold from $170-$214, or 620-665c/kg. Trade lambs made $118-$190, or 670-720c/kg, and store lambs sold for $93-$135, or 660-740c/kg. Light Merino lambs sold from $105-$137, or 610-630c/kg, and heavy lines made $130-$175, or 610-630c/kg.
Light mutton sheep sold from $75-$137, or 430-470c/kg, and heavy sheep made $130-$170, or 420-470c/kg.
Mt Gambier lambs sell to $230
In South Australia at the Mt Gambier saleyards, the agents yarded 2200 lambs, 467 fewer than last week, and 252 sheep, 68 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with several pens of outstanding extra heavy lambs with weights in excess of 30kg, some top quality trade and heavy lambs, and store types that attracted restocker interest. These sold to the usual trade and processor buyers, with restockers active where they could get a look in. Prices lifted in the extremely strong market.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade for up to $108, with the light weight trade 2 and 3 score types making to $129. Restockers bought lambs to turn out for $116-$131. Trade weight 3 score lambs lifted by $6-$8 to $130-$155, or around 660c/kg. Heavy lambs made up most of the offering and sold from $155-$174, rising $5-$7. More extra heavy export weight lambs came forward, including the best pen seen in Mount Gambier in a number of seasons. They sold from $180-$230, averaging 640c/kg.
Hoggets sold from $125-$139. Light and medium weight ewes sold from $36-$76. Heavy ewes lifted by up to $7 to $112-$128. Rams sold to $112.
Katanning prices firm to dearer
In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 13,724 lambs, 1650 more than last week, and 12,000 sheep, 1000 less.
The NLRS said it was mixed quality sheep at Katanning. Prices remained firm to higher. Lighter lambs trended dearer and the heavy weights eased slightly.
Light weight lambs sold from $67-$103 and lambs suitable for air freight made $85-$131. Trade weight lambs made $115-$145. Heavy lambs sold for $148-$150 and extra heavy lambs made to $175. Feeder buyers and restockers paid from $59 for light store lambs up to $130 for the heavier drafts.
Young blue tag ewes sold from $81 for the very light and plain ewes up to $128 for better quality restocker ewes. Mutton prices were firm for the light and trade weight ewes, $81 up to $105 for lines with a full fleece. Prime three and four score sheep made from $95 up to $142 for lines with a full fleece. Store ewes sold from $52 up to $111 for those with a full fleece.
Processors paid $83-$130 for wethers, and restocker and feeder buyers paid $77 for very light wether lambs and up to $136 for large framed types. Wethers for live export made $97-$144. Ram lambs sold for $57-$117 and from $100-$120 for live export, depending on size. Older rams sold for $40-$103 to processors and from $80-$90 for live export.
Warwick lambs sell to $190
In Queensland at the Warwick saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1353 lambs and hoggets, and 237 sheep.
The market was quoted dearer for all lambs and sheep, in a similar yarding of lambs and a smaller yarding of sheep. Lambs sold to $190 for Prime Lamb Australia of ‘Rosemary Downs’, Victoria Hill.
Crossbred lambs 51-55kg lwt sold from $156-$190, the 46-50kg made $142-$160, the 41-45kg lines sold for $126-$143 and35-40kg lwt lambs made $114-$135.
Shorn crossbred hoggets 81.2kg lwt sold to $150. Light wethers with $18 skins sold to $111, or 310c/kg cwt. Heavy crossbred ewes with $12 skins made to $150, or 420c/kg, and light ewes with $9 skins sold to $99, or 320c/kg.
Sources: MLA, NLRS.