Recent higher prices for lamb and mutton boosted yardings in most saleyards in NSW, SA, Victoria and WA mid-week. Fewer producers are hooking lambs and mutton as saleyard prices continue to run ahead of grid rates.
Mutton rates are pushing above 350c/kg cwt and over 400c/kg in some centres, and slaughter lamb prices above 600c/kg cwt are becoming more common.
Competition remains strong for the limited numbers of quality trade and heavy lambs being yarded, with restockers at times outcompeting processors to pay upto 650c/kg for light tradeweight lines in some centres.
MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the Eastern States Daily Indicator for restocker lambs as down one cent to 571c/kg cwt, but all other ES indices closed after Thursday’s sales firm or up on the previous day.
The other lamb ESDI’s are: Merino, 524c/kg, up 4 cents; light, 556c/kg, no change; trade, 570c/kg, no change and heavy lambs, 589c/kg, up 4 cents. The ESDI for mutton was up eight cents o 365c/kg cwt.
Carcoar’s trade and heavy lambs cheaper, restockers pay more
In NSW at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar on Wednesday, the agents yarded 9500 lambs, 4000 more than last week, and 6200 sheep, 2300 more.
The NLRS said the mixed quality yarding had some good heavy weight shorn lambs and a reasonable selection of new season lambs. There was also a fair selection of lighter lambs suitable for restockers.
Young lambs to the restockers were dearer, mainly due to the better class of lambs, with restockers paying up to $117. Trade lambs were $3-$4 cheaper compared to the very strong market of the previous sale. The 18-22kg cwt new season lambs sold from $90-$132. Heavy weight lambs were $3-$6 cheaper, with the over 22kg cwt old lambs selling from $128-$177 to average 571c/kg cwt. There were too few Merinos to quote.
It was principally a good quality yarding of mutton. Light and medium weight ewes were $3-$4 cheaper, while the better heavier ewes were firm and the wethers were $2 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $40-$84, while the 3 and 4 scores sold from $70-$125.50 for crossbreds and $106 for Merinos. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $68-$120.
Goulburn’s light trade dearer despite quality drop
At the Goulburn saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 500 more than last week, and 2500 sheep, 1000 more.
The NLRS said the lambs were generally plainer in the mixed quality yarding. A smaller selection of new season lambs lacked freshness while the recent stronger market drew out more secondary old lambs. There were mostly light and trade weights yarded and a few small lots of heavy and extra heavy lots. Lambs suitable for restockers were limited with mostly secondary light trade weights returning to the paddock offered.
Despite the drop in overall quality, the market was variable in places but remained strong. Most lamb categories lifted $2-$4 while some light processing and light trade categories were up to $10 dearer. Restockers paid $107-$115 while light processing lambs, 16-18kg cwt, made from $86-$105. Trade weights, 18-22kg, ranged from $92-$129 while heavy lambs made $120-$140 for most slaughter lots, averaging 520c/kg-570c/kg.
Hoggets also met keen competition for most to range from $100-$135. There were mostly ewes offered in a firm to slightly cheaper mutton market. Light 2 score ewes made $48-$68 with medium and heavy weights ranging from $58-$130. Heavy Merino wethers reached $120 for most of the well-covered lines, averaging from 320c/kg-370c/kg cwt.
Wagga sheep sell to 392c/kg cwt
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 35,000 lambs, 14,000 more than last week, and 6500 sheep, 1100 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very good with plenty of weight in the offering. Trade lambs were in shorter supply, with most trade lamb skin quality very good. Well-shaped trade lambs were keenly sought by all domestic processors, while plainer lambs lacking finish were keenly contested by local restockers. The usual domestic and export buyers competed in a dearer market.
Well-finished heavy trade lambs sold to stronger demand assisted by stronger demand from both export and domestic buyers. The bulk of the heavy trade lambs averaged 592c/kg cwt, reaching a top price of $155. Trade lambs 20-22kg were in limited supply and keenly sought by domestic processors and select butcher orders, with lambs to slaughter averaging $133.20.
There was limited numbers of trade Merino lambs, which sold to spirited bidding, selling from $100-$139. Well-bred secondary lambs returning to the paddock made from $90-$123.60.
There were more heavy export lambs, with plenty weighing above 30kg cwt. Heavy lambs made from $150-$169 to average 622c/kg cwt. The bulk of the extra heavy lambs sold from $160-$212 averaging 552c/kg-602c/kg cwt.
Mutton quality was very mixed, with all weights and grades represented. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were in reasonable numbers and prices lifted $3 to average 328c/kg cwt. Heavy sheep were in shorter supply and demand strengthened due to robust competition from a major processor in Queensland. Heavy sheep made from $86-$128 averaging 362c/kg-392c/kg cwt.
Quality shorn lambs coming off lucerne
Landmark Wagga livestock manager Peter Cabot said lamb quality was exceptional at Wagga – “as good as we’ve seen for years”.
Mr Cabot said most of the quality lambs were shorn lines coming off lucerne, with a few grain fed lambs, though hot weather next week is expected to shut down lucerne-finishing.
“They’ve predicted that we will get 40 degrees for three days next week, so that will finish the lucerne,” he said.
“I would imagine moving forward that we are going to sell 30,000 lambs a week here for a while.”
He said the general run of lambs was 23-28kg cwt, with “good” rates equal to last week.
“But I wouldn’t mind betting that we’ve seen the best of it, to be honest, in the short term.
“I just know it will get hot and dry here and we will yard a lot of stock,” Mr Cabot said.
“If there is lucerne the lamb market is alright, but if there is no lucerne the lamb market always gets doggo.”
Restockers push trade off lambs at Hamilton
In Victoria at Hamilton on Wednesday, the agents yarded 15,900 lambs, 2308 more than last week.
The NLRS said the yarding improved in quality and condition, with more well-finished lambs, mostly in the 18-24kg cwt range. Most of the usual buyers were present, although not all operated in a dearer market. Restockers from South Australia and local areas were again stronger and paid up to 650c/kg cwt for the store types.
Light weight lambs were $6 dearer, with the 2 scores selling from $66-$108. The 3 score trade lambs were $9 dearer, with the 18-22kg cwt lambs selling from $112-$135, or an estimated average of 600c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 4 score lambs were from $5-$8 dearer, with those weighing in excess of 22kg cwt selling from $142-$173.
Horsham prices improve despite big yarding increase
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 12,925 lambs, 6593 more than last week, and 3778 sheep, 1852 more than last week.
The NLRS said good prices and an earlier season contributed to increased sheep and lamb yarding. Quality was again good, with good supplies of trade weight and heavy lambs.
Merino lambs were also in good numbers, with a well-presented pen selling to $152. The usual buyers operated strongly in a dearer market, with most lambs selling to $5 up on last week. Restockers paid $90-$116 for lambs.
Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $70-$92. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $93-$128. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $120-$150, ranging from 540c/kg-620c/kg cwt to average around 580c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $146-$170 to average around 600c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $178-$197.
The increased sheep offering included all weights and grades. A flock dispersal of mixed age full wool joined Lines blood Merino ewes went back to the paddock for $135-$164. Sheep generally sold firm to a few dollars up on last week, with some of the crossbred sheep a few dollars easier in places.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $60-$80. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $71-$103, and they ranged from 330c/kg-410c/kg cwt to average around 370c/kg cwt. Heavy Merino sheep sold from $93-$122 with the heavy crossbreds selling from $82-$129.50. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $88-$125 and the medium weights sold from $90-$110 at around 370c/kg-380c/kg cwt.
Hamilton sheep dearer, up to 420c/kg cwt
In the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 15,625 sheep, 1512 more than last week.
The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding, made up of mostly medium to light to medium weights and some extra heavy export sheep. All the usual processors attended, but two buyers did not operate. Restockers were active on younger Merino sheep.
All grades had a dearer trend; the light sheep by $3, the medium weights by $5-$6 and the heavier lines by $7-$8. The 2 score light wethers and ewes sold from $48-$88, while the 3 and 4 score Merino ewes sold from $83-$112. Crossbred ewes sold from $91-$125. The estimated cwt averages for the above sheep was 390c/kg cwt.
Merino wethers, 3 and 4 score, sold from $85-$124, with one crossbred wether pen making $128. The wethers averaged around 420c/kg cwt. Rams sold to $60 and hoggets to $122.
Mt Gambier shorn lambs hit $206
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards, the agents yarded 4657 lambs, 2240 more than last week, and 487 sheep, 145 more.
The NLRS said some good quality shorn lambs were offered and lambs broke the $200 mark. The usual trade and processor buyers were active along with a small restocker presence and prices generally were firm across the market.
Restockers purchased a small number of lambs, mainly paying from $31-$95. Lightweight lambs ranged from $77-$99 and lightweight trade 2 and 3 scores made $105-$115. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $111-$136 at an average of 570c/kg cwt. All of these rates were firm on last week.
Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $130-$164 at an average of 570c/kg cwt. Heavy export 4 and 5 score lambs made from $153-$206. The heavy lambs were $4-$6 dearer then last week.
The few hoggets sold from $65-$110. Only a small number of sheep came forward and lightweight ewes ranged from $44-$50. Medium weight 2 and 3 scores ranged from $55-$91 with the heavier types returning vendors from $99-$125, while rams made up to $50.
Hot conditions boost Katanning yarding
In WA at the Katanning saleyards, the agents yarded 6793 lambs, 3090 more than last week, and 11,000 sheep, 6000 more.
The NLRS said numbers lifted as hot dry conditions affected water and feed. Ewe mutton numbers were high along with solid numbers of crossbred and Merino lambs. Quality was plain, with very few pens of prime lambs and
Light conditioned and light weight lambs were plentiful, with large supplies of very light weight Merino lambs. All buyers were present but some lamb buyers did not operate due to quality and numbers.
Live export orders were limited. Prices for the few pens of prime lambs lifted but the majority of trade weight lambs remained firm. Light and store lambs enjoyed strong processor and restocker competition with prices dearer.
Very light store lambs, mostly Merino drafts, made $20-$77, dearer by more than $4. Light lamb to processors, feeders and restockers made $65-$91.50, also up in price. Trade lambs sold from $87-$120, with most averaging close to 490c/kg cwt and the few prime pens averaging 510c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs made $120-$130, firm on last week.
Ewe weight and condition slipped and prices were mostly back $4-$5 and there was only a moderate number of heavy ewes. Light weight ewes made $35-$55, with 2 score mutton to processors making $50-$71, back $4 and averaging 280c/kg cwt.
Better 3 and 4 score ewes, including heavy weight drafts, made $55-$94, to be $2 easier. Restockers were active on light conditioned and longer wool drafts, and prices held firm. The ewe hogget portion also finished firm.
Wether prices eased on quality and selective live export demand. Export weight wethers made $70-$94, back $5, with store wethers also $5 easier and selling from $45-$82.
Source: MLA, NLRS.