AUSTRALIA’S heavy lamb market went on a record-breaking streak in saleyards this week as numbers fell in some major centres, forcing buyers to pay more than 900c/kg and up to 1000c/kg for quality slaughter lines.
The Eastern States Daily Indicators peaked at historically high levels for trade (931c/kg) and heavy (930c/kg) lambs on February 18, with buyers able to stabilise prices to just above 900c/kg by limiting saleyard competition with contract consignments and their own supplementary-fed lambs.
But this week the heavy lamb indicator started climbing again as major exporters sourced lambs from saleyards to finalise orders in the face of falling yardings of quality lambs in some major saleyards.
At the Bendigo saleyards, on Monday, the National Livestock Reporting Service said prices for the lead runs of processing lambs were $5-$20 dearer. A new Bendigo and national record of $360 was set for 88 extra heavy shorn Poll Dorset cross lambs estimated at 38-39kg cwt from Ellis Nuttal & Co clients, A. and B. McIntosh from Wanalta. This cwt estimate puts the lambs at about 910c/kg dressed. The lambs were bought by Southern Meats at Goulburn.
The NLRS said there was an impressive run of heavy export lambs over 30kg at Bendigo that sold from $280-$360, with about 700 lambs selling for more than $300.
Ellis Nuttall and Co Bendigo auctioneer Rupert Fawcett Jnr said there not many extra heavy lambs available in the area.
“It’s all supply and demand at the moment.
“There are not many lambs around, a lot of people kept selling them as suckers before Christmas because the money was so good and the season was as bad as it was,” he said.
“The numbers are definitely not as plentiful as they were last year, that’s for sure.”
After more than 60 years in the agency business, Rupert Fawcett Snr could not remember seeing heavy lambs sell for the current carcase weight prices.
“Everyone has been up against it for water and feed, they are scarce, the good ones.”
He said the lambs’ cast for age first cross mothers sold for $280 three weeks ago.
Ballarat break’s Bendigo record a day later
At Ballarat on Tuesday, the Bendigo record was broke by a pen of 56 Poll Dorset cross lambs sold for $380 to Southern Meats by TB White and Sons auctioneer Gerry White for Dean clients Kevin and Jean Guthrie and family.
Mr White said with lower supply cycle started with low lambings last year, followed by the drought and water issues across the border, leading to lack of numbers with the required weight.
He said estimated the Guthrie lambs at 41-42kg dressed weight which puts their cwt price at about 910c/kg. The Guthries ended up selling 180 lambs on Tuesday for an average of $376.
“These prices are normally winter money as a rule.
“But these people who are getting this money, they took the risk to pay $200-plus for store lambs,” he said.
“If there is no money in that they won’t do it – whoever has got them they are being well-rewarded.”
The high prices for heavy and trade lambs also continued at other saleyard centres this week.