All classes of lambs lifted in price at saleyards last week, with the few Friday sales also reaping the benefit of pre-Easter buying by processors.
Eastern states processors have only two days of saleyard sales to buy from this week, with the only centres operating being Dubbo, Tamworth and Forbes in NSW; Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria, and; Naracoorte and Dublin in SA.
Only Katanning in WA will sell sheep and lambs on Wednesday, with Muchea also selling as usual on Tuesday.
Saleyard sales then don’t start again until April 7 next week at the usual venues in SA, NSW, Victoria and WA.
All NLRS indicators make double-digit gains
All National Livestock Reporting Service Eastern State Daily Indicators for lamb and mutton made double-digit gains last week, from 20-34c/kg cwt.
After last Friday’s saleyard sales, the ESDIs for the lamb categories mainly held firm. Their daily changes and weekly gains were: restocker, 508c/kg, up 1 cent, up 21c; Merino 464c/kg, down 1c, up 34c; light 484c/kg, up 1c, up 26c; trade 525c/kg, up1c, up 32c; heavy 529c/kg, no change, up 29c. The national trade lamb indicator gain two cents on Friday to 527c/kg and the heavy lamb indice was down one cent to 528c/kg.
The mutton ESDI closed firm on Friday on 339c/kg, after a 20-cent weekly lift, and the national mutton indicator was at 338c/kg, down one cent.
Supplies possibly not shortening just yet
Meat and Livestock Australia’s market information manager Ben Thomas said the eastern states slaughter has been tracking on-par with levels at the same time last year.
“So I don’t think there are any indications just yet that there is a tightening of supply, though it is likely to happen later on.”
Mr Thomas said there is a break in the markets over Easter and traditionally there is volatility in the market at this time of the year due to shorter kill weeks and fewer saleyard sales.
“It is quite common for the week before and after a long weekend for there to be a fair bit of volatility in the market.”
AuctionsPlus’s first prime lamb sale attracts processor interest
AuctionsPlus market operations officer Anna Adams said sheep and lamb throughput fell 17,000 to 54,019 head last week, including the first dedicated prime lamb sale offering on March 27.
She said the benefits of utilising AuctionsPlus were highlighted neatly in the prime lamb sale.
“While only a small offering of 726 lambs out of NSW, six processors from three states viewed the sale; one vendor expecting only local competition sold his lambs to a Victorian buyer; and the vendor’s ability to be a price maker was exhibited by purchasers meeting reserve prices following the auction.”
“We were very pleased with the buyer interest and the prices achieved for the lambs offered in our first prime lamb sale.”
Ms Adams said delivery periods provided flexibility for buyers to allow them to fit in with kill space schedules, with pick up dates through to the week following Easter. Of the 15 registered bidders logged in, six were processors.
“Several other processors expressed interest in the sale and viewed the catalogue, however the lambs offered either did not suit their specifications or they did not have kill space available in the delivery periods nominated.”
Ms Adams said 226 24.2kg cwt lambs at Coonamble sold for 508c/kg on farm including skin, to a processor in Victoria with a freight estimate of 38c/kg.
“The vendor was expecting his lambs to sell to a local processor, and was pleasantly surprised at receiving competition from the buyer in Victoria whom he had not sold to before.”
She said 200 23.8kg cwt lambs at Cowra sold for 550c/kg on farm including skin, to a processor in NSW. AuctionsPlus’ next sale will be on Friday April 10 at 8am (NSW time) with sales to run fortnightly.
More scanned ewes offered online
Ms Adams said more joined and scanned ewes are hitting the online marketplace, particularly out of the south. Young Merino ewes joined to Merinos made $89-$122 last week, while those scanned to terminal sires sold from $113-$135 for rising two-year-olds out of western Victoria. Aged ewes to drop a crossbred lamb sold from $64-$101.50.
The crossbred ewes offered last week on AuctionsPlus were primarily White Suffolk/Merinos, with joined ewes selling for $127.50-$147. Some first cross ewe lambs out of Tasmania sold for $150. In QLD, White Dorper ewes out of Blackall sold for $95-$102, well above their reserve price.
Ms Adams said Merino wether lamb prices ranged from $30-$74 averaging $54, with the top price being for Bundilla blood lambs out of Young just a month off shears and weighing 38kg live. Lambs estimated to dress at 28kg at Cowra sold for 550c/kg cwt or $156. In Tasmania some 21kg cwt lambs made 512c, all including skin value. Processors were also chasing mutton with prices ranging from 250-336c/kg cwt including skin, Ms Adams said.
Griffith heavy lambs firm to dearer
In NSW at the Griffith saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 12,554 lambs, 3954 more than last week, and 1808 sheep, 492 fewer.
The NLRS said the lamb yarding was mainly of good to very good quality. Heavy weights dominated the lamb offering. The usual buyers were active, with prices firm for heavy weight lambs, while extra heavy weight export lambs and trade lambs were slightly dearer.
Light trade weight 2 score lambs sold from $74-$88, and the medium to heavy trade weights made $93-$125. The heavy 4 score export lambs made $123-$151 and the extra heavy weights sold from $130-$177. Trade and heavy weight lambs averaged 510c/kg cwt, but the extra heavy weights were dearer.
The sheep were of mixed quality and sold at firm rates. Most sheep were medium to heavy weights, with heavy to extra heavy weights making up most of the offering. Dressed weight costs were mainly between 310-370c/kg. The few medium weight 2 score sheep made $72-$79, while the 3 and 4 score heavy to extra heavy weights mostly sold from $89-$110, with one pen at $125.
Cowra’s light and trade lambs $2-$5 dearer
At the Cowra saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 8350 lambs, 4350 more than last week, and 1500 sheep, 400 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality varied, with some well-finished trade and heavy lambs, and plainer lines. There were more trade lambs compared to previous sales, a reasonable supply of heavy weights and a limited number of store lambs. All the buyers were operating and competition was solid, resulting in a firm to dearer market.
Light lambs to the processors were up $5 and averaged $92.90. Medium and heavy trade weights were $2-$5 dearer and averaged from 529-536c/kg cwt. Most of the better heavy trade weight lambs sold from $115-$122.
Heavy weight lambs were firm to $3 dearer and averaged from 520-538c/kg cwt. A couple of pens of extra heavy weight lambs topped at $170-$182.
Mutton quality was generally mixed. Medium Merino ewes were $6 dearer and averaged $79 or 317c/kg cwt. Heavy first cross ewes held firm and averaged $100 or 334c/kg. Medium wethers averaged $88.
Shepparton slaughter lambs $2-$9 dearer
In Victoria at the Shepparton saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 1500 lambs, 66 more than last week, and 700 sheep, 142 more.
There was a better quality selection of lambs compared to last week. The usual buyers operated in a dearer market.
The best pens of slaughter lambs sold $2-$9 dearer. The market reached a top of $154 twice for export lambs estimated to have a carcass weight of about 28kg. Apart from a few lead pens in each agent’s draft, most of the lambs on offer were plainer trade and lightweight types. The general run of trade lambs sold from $96-$110, while most lightweight pens made from $70-$90. There was limited restocker interest at up to $108.50, but most sales back to the paddock were smaller and plainer lambs sold from $53-$80. About a dozen pens of well-finished heavy lambs, 24-26kg cwt, sold from $125-$145. A limited offering of heavier export lambs sold for up to $154. In carcase terms the better quality slaughter lambs ranged from about 510-540c/kg, to average around 530c/kg.
The sheep market also rebounded from last week’s lower levels. The better quality yarding of sheep included some better lines of first-cross ewes which sold from $85-$118.
Sources: AuctionsPlus, MLA, NLRS.