SLAUGHTER lamb prices held generally firm to dearer this week, as restocking, domestic trade and export interest in lambs remained strong.
In some centres, restockers paid up to $151 for lambs and Merinos with $15 skins made $181 as exports and domestic processors competed with traders for dwindling supplies of suitable lambs.
Processors also started to lift their grid prices again this week to attract more direct supplies. Lamb grid rates were firm to 7c/kg higher in New South Wales, up to 5c/kg higher in Victoria and pitched 13-20c/kg higher in South Australia.
Mutton prices also stayed strong, despite being slightly lower than the record level of last week, when the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Mutton Indicator reached 517c/kg cwt, surpassing all other record prices since Meat & Livestock Australia began reporting.
The mutton indicator opened this week on 503c/kg cwt and after Tuesday’s saleyard sales improved to 504c/kg. At Bendigo on Monday, heavy Border Leicester ewes estimated at 40-50kg cwt made $200, or about 438c/kg cwt, believed to be a record price per head for mutton sheep the selling centre.
Over-the-hook mutton indicators lifted this week, with prices in Victoria averaging 470c/kg cwt for medium weight 18-34kg cwt sheep. In NSW, over-the-hook medium weight mutton averaged 480c/kg cwt.
The NLRS said last week national mutton yardings were up around 20,000 head year-on-year, to about 70,000 head. Eastern states mutton slaughter totalled 94,360 head last week, up 27 percent year-on-year.
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS ESDIs for lamb categories were: Restocker 706c/kg, up 2 cents; 606c/kg, up 10c; light 657c/kg, up 2c; trade 638c/kg, down 2c; heavy 629c/kg, no change.
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Dubbo’s heavy lambs lift $6-$8
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 22,240 lambs, 1540 more than last week, and 10,680 sheep, 1960 more.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said it was a good quality yarding with a good selection of trade and heavy weight lambs. There was also a good percentage of White Dorpers and lighter Merinos from far west NSW.
Light weight lambs sold $3-$5 dearer to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $92-$125. Trade lambs were firm to $4 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores making $116-$155, to average 630c/kg cwt. The heavy weight lambs were $6-$8 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $144-$210 to average 625-635c/kg. Merino lambs were up to $7 dearer, with the trade weights making $119-$148. First cross ewe lambs sold to restockers for up to $156 and lambs to fatten sold to $124. Hoggets sold to $174.
The much plainer quality yarding of sheep included more light weight lines. Compared to the previous sale’s very strong market, most grades were $7-$10 cheaper and more in places. The 2 score ewes sold from $35-$104. The better 3 and 4 score very heavy crossbreds sold from $86-$189 and Merinos in full wool made to $156. Merino wethers sold to $155.
Corowa mutton prices firm
At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 6650 lambs, 2500 fewer than last week, and 2500 sheep, 50 more.
The NLRS said it was a plainer quality lamb yarding made up of mostly trade weights, some very good extra heavy lambs and good supplies of Merino lambs. Most usual buyers attended; however, prices varied during the sale to be $2-$9 dearer.
Light trade weight lambs made $129-$148, medium trade sold from $134-$160 and the heavy trade lambs sold for $140-$167, to average 631c/kg. Heavy lambs made $160-$175 and extra heavy lambs sold from $173-$199.
Prices were firm for the good quality mutton sheep yarding, that had very few light sheep. Competition was solid from the regular buyers. Medium Merino ewes 18-24kg sold from $107-$140 and heavy Merino ewes made to $166. Heavy cross bred ewe sheep sold to $200, wethers made to 196 and hoggets to $153.
Tamworth’s heavy lambs $5-$10 dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2750 lambs, 650 fewer than last week, and 1500 sheep, 300 less.
The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to very good, with heavy and extra heavy weights well supplied. There were fewer good quality lambs suitable for restockers. The usual buyers attended.
Market trends varied on lambs, with quality impacting on prices and averages. The quality of the lambs suited to restockers affected prices in the firm to cheaper market.
The well-finished trade weight lambs sold firm to slightly cheaper, with limited competition. The quality of the well-finished heavy and extra heavy weight lambs had a positive effect on prices and averages that trended $5-$10 dearer.
There was a very mixed quality and condition penning of grown sheep. The Merinos were carrying quite a bit of wool and this contributed to higher skin values in places. The crossbred and Dorper sheep also carried more weight in some cases. The overall market was firm to cheaper, with weight and skin values contributing to price improvements.
Forbes trade lambs firm to $4 dearer
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 18,700 lambs, 2550 fewer than last week, and 3450 sheep, 3750 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved slightly from the previous sale, with some better lines of finished lambs. Most of the offering was heavy and extra heavy weight lambs. The usual buyers competed in a firm to dearer market.
Light lambs held steady to sell from $118-$123. Trade weights were firm to $4 dearer at $125-$152. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were firm to $3 better. Heavy lambs made $147-$166 and extra heavies sold from $161-$212. Carcase prices averaged 618-644c/kg.
Mutton sheep quality was very mixed and prices eased. Most of the yarding was Merinos, with ewes selling from $101-$176. Crossbreds made $113-$179 and Dorper ewes sold from $105-$160. Merino wethers made $116-$168.
Deniliquin prices cheaper
At the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3000 lambs, 958 fewer than two weeks ago, and 500 sheep, 291 less.
The NLRS said there was a reasonable selection of medium and heavy trade lambs, including some off grain, but only a few pens of heavy exports over 27kg cwt. The Merino lambs were generally plain, lacking weight and fat cover. There were a few processing orders missing from the buying ranks, which contributed to a cheaper market.
Most lambs were $6-$12 easier compared to a fortnight ago. Lambs sold to a top of $178, with only four pens over $170. General runs of crossbred lambs sold from $135-$165 and were estimated to averaged 585-610c/kg. Some of the best quality domestic pens sold higher. Plainer and light weight lambs sold from $88-$130 in a weaker result.
The sheep yarding very limited, comprising mostly small and mixed pen lots of Merino ewes and rams. Prices also averaged below recent rates.
Bendigo crossbred ewes sell to $200
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 10,070 lambs, 1960 fewer than last week, and 2595 sheep, 1405 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained mixed, with a better selection of heavy export lambs off feeders, but fewer good domestic and Merino lambs. Prices varied depending on weight and class. Buyers showed a preference for shorter-skinned lambs.
The export lambs sold at similar rates to last week taking into account their better quality. Trade lambs averaged firm to a few dollars dearer. Some of the best price increases in the sale were for light weight lambs, which sold to restockers and feedlot orders.
Prices reached a top of $212 for heavy export lambs over 30kg cwt; one of four pens of extra heavy lambs over $200. The general run of export lambs, weighing 27-29kg, sold from $178-$198. On a carcase basis most of these lambs were estimated at 600-620c/kg.
The good pens of trade weight lambs sold from $144-$178, averaging 635-650c/kg across the main categories, and select pens making to 657c/kg. Restockers paid up to $134 for small lambs.
Mutton exporters paid to $200 for a pen of Border Leicester ewes and to $196 for some Dorset Horn ewes, with these sales believed to be price records at Bendigo for cull ewes. Both lots were super-sized at well over 40kg. The sheep sale overall was mixed, due in part to the varied line-up as a lot of small, clean-up pen lots of ewes come through the system. Most sheep, aside from the very heaviest, were estimated to cost processors 480-520c/kg.
Ballarat lambs lift $5
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 18,595 lambs, 6701 fewer than last week, and 3869 sheep, 397 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very good, with good numbers of trade weight and heavy lambs offered to the usual buyers.
Lambs sold to strong demand to -be $5 dearer on most categories. The best extra heavy lambs sold to $245, with 42 pens selling at $200-plus. Heavier trade weight lambs sold from $153-$178 and averaged around 680c/kg.
Heavy Merino lambs with $15 skins sold to $181.20, with most making $91-$138.20. Feeders and restockers were very active from $118-$151 and on lighter lambs at $70-$120. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $100-$115. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $130-$153 and averaged around 690c/kg.
Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $145-$163, with the heavier drafts making $153-$178, to range from 630-725c/kg and average around 680c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $172-$200, with the extra heavy lambs making $206-$245. Heavy hoggets sold to $170.
The mutton sheep included all weights and grades, and sold to strong demand. Heavy sheep were up to $10 dearer. Heavy crossbred ewes made to $187, with a run of medium weight Merino sheep averaging around 550c/kg. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $69-$118. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $97-$143 and ranged from 440-570c/kg, with the Merino mutton averaging around 550c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $135-$156, heavy Merino wethers made $132-$163 and the medium weights sold for $94-$150 at 525-550c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep made $115-$187 and heavy rams sold to $160.
Dublin’s light Merino and crossbred lambs lift $15
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange in Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,000 lambs, and 2500 sheep, 500 more.
The NLRS said more heavy supplementary-fed lambs were offered to the usual trade and processor buyers and a large gallery of restockers seeking supplies.
Light Merino and crossbred lambs to turn out lifted by as much as $15 as trade buyers pushed restockers to their limits. Trade weight lambs increased by up to $5 under some spirited processor competition, while the balance of the lamb offering remained firm week-on-week.
Light lambs up to 16kg cwt made $60-$120. The 17-20kg lambs sold from $80 for score 2 Merinos to $132 for crossbreds. The 22-26kg lambs made from $114 for Merinos up to $190 for crossbreds. Heavy lambs sold from $165-$216. Light hoggets made $82-$130 and heavier lines sold from $108-$150.
Mutton sheep also sold on a firm trend. Light ewes made from $85 up to $142 for recently joined rising 2 tooth ewes. Heavy weight ewes sold from $130-$174. Light rams made $60-$140 and heavy weights sold from $85-$146.
Naracoorte lambs dearer
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2628 lambs, 840 fewer than last week, and 1068 sheep, 282 less.
The NLRS said fewer trade and processor buyers were active and there hardly any restocker activity on the very mixed type and quality offering.
The yarding ranged from the very light lambs lacking condition to good quality heavy prime pens that made to $222. Most categories received a small lift in price.
A large number of Merino lambs were contained in the offering. Light weight lambs sold to the trade made $96-$127 and the light weight trade 2 and 3 score types made $120-$131. Trade weight 3 score lambs were well-supplied and made $128-$148 with a $2 lift to average 630-640c/kg.
Heavy lambs sold from $148-$175 and extra heavy export weight types made $176-$222. Light weight Merino lambs sold from $58-$98 and the light weight trade 2 and 3 score types made $111-$122. Trade weight Merino lambs sold from $122-$144. Hoggets made $103-$142.
Light weight ewes sold to $104. Medium weighted ewes made $104-$128 and heavy lines sold from $136-$172. A run of light weight Merino wether hoggets sold from $74-$116 and rams made $80-$137.
Muchea prices up by $3-$5
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7323 lambs, 2337 fewer than last week, and 4000 sheep, 162 less.
The NLRS said the smaller average quality yarding had an effect on demand, with prices increasing across most types by $3-$5, particularly on the better finished types. However, it was evident that the condition of the stock has been affected by the very dry April.
Light crossbred store lambs sold to restockers for $65-$85. Young light weight Merino wethers sold to feeders for $45-$71 and better heavier types were bought by live exporters at $119-$130. In the trade section, air freight type lambs 15-18kg made $90-$120, up by $3-$5. Trade lambs 18-22kg also sold $3-$5 dearer at $130-$147. Heavier lambs 23kg-plus sold from $155-$171 to finish $1-$3 dearer.
Young Merino ewes were keenly sought. Restocker paid $50-$72 for the 14-15kg light weights and the heavier 18-24kg lines made $90-$142 with the trade. Light weight ewe hoggets sold to restockers for $65-$90 and the trade bought 22kg-plus lines for $115-$123, also $3-$5 dearer.
Mutton sheep sold $2-$4 dearer, with very keen competition on well-finished types. Best heavy ewes 28kgs-plus sold from $112 for shorn lines up to $131 for those with a near-full fleece. The 18-23kg sheep sold to processors for $82-$111 and light weights made $50-$93, pushed by grazier demand.
Wethers sold close to equal, with light weights making $70-$96 with competition from graziers and live exporters. Heavy wethers made from $121 up to $139 for lines with a big fleece. The ram market remained firm, with processors generally paying $65-$72 for better old rams, most with a big fleece. Live exporters paid $75-$105 for better younger clean skins.
Tasmania’s heavy lambs $4-$6 cheaper
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1630 lambs, 290 more than last week, and 1220 sheep, 520 more.
The NLRS said there was more weight in the lamb yarding and all the regular buyers attended.
The heavy lambs averaged $4-$6 cheaper, but restockers put a strong floor in the trade lamb market.
Restockers bought very small lambs for $65-$95, light lambs made $85-$117 and trade weights sold from $125-$135. Wholesalers and exporters paid $129-$139 for trade lambs, $138-$155 for heavy lambs and $148-$181 for extra heavy pens.
Although light mutton sheep sold cheaper, all medium and heavy sheep improved further on recent high quotes. Light mutton made $74-$86, medium weights $98-$148 and heavy lines $138-$159.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.