BALLARAT stock agency TB White and Sons has set a new Victorian record price for lambs of $300 as competition intensified among export processors for quality supplies.
The new state record came as processor demand lifts prices for all lamb category indicators – Merinos, light, trade and heavy lambs – in saleyards nationally, except for restocker lambs.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said the eastern states restocker lamb indicator dipped one cent last week and a further 16 cents on Tuesday to close at 836c/kg.
Agents are expecting the strong saleyard prices to put pressure on processors to lift their over-the-hook prices.
On Tuesday at Ballarat’s Central Victorian Livestock Exchange, TB White and Sons auctioneer Gerry White sold 167 Poll Dorset cross lambs from Andrew Maher of Carlisle Farms, Dean, for the record price to Dubbo processor Fletcher International Exports.
The price exceeded by just $2 the previous state lamb price record of $298 set at the Bendigo saleyards in August last year and bettered the Ballarat’s previous centre of $287 reached last week by lambs from TB White and Sons and Landmark clients.
TB White and Sons livestock manager Xavier Bourke said Mr Maher is a regular supplier of heavy weight lambs into the Ballarat saleyards. In July last year, Mr Maher sold heavy lambs for the then centre record price of $267.
“It was a very very good result,” Mr Bourke said of yesterday’s record price.
The Maher lambs were estimated at 40-41kg carcase weight with a $10 skin, but Mr Bourke was expecting heavier lambs in coming weeks.
“Andy Maher has lambs coming in next week that will heavier than the one’s yesterday.
“If the job is $10 dearer again next week and they are heavier they could make $310 or $315.”
The Dubbo saleyards holds the national record for extra heavy lambs at $344 set in September 2018 and the Wagga saleyards achieved the highest heavy lamb price of $320 in August last year.
Mr Bourke quoted lamb prices as $10-$15 on all categories on Tuesday.
“There is plenty of weight in the lambs which is why you are getting the big dollars.
“The number of lambs around is definitely slipping; locally our numbers are pretty good for this time of the year, but I think the northern areas must be slowing down a lot.”
He said restocker have put a floor in the market with the lighter lambs, but trade and supermarket demand is strong.
“And you’ve got two or three exports going hard and one exporter (Thomas Foods International) didn’t buy yesterday.”
Mr Bourke said the heavy lamb and trade lamb prices in saleyards were on a par with the over-the-hook rates, if not better.
“For the last 3-4 weeks the hook price has been 40-50 cents better than the market (saleyards).”
Lambs prices also generally lifted in other major market this week, with the best extreme heavy weights at the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday also setting a centre record of $274.
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS quoted the Eastern States Daily Indicators for other lamb categories as: Merino, up 15 cents to 752c/kg; light, up 8 cents, 780c/kg; trade, up 4 cnets, 775c/kg, and; heavy, up 7 cents, 765c/kg. The mutton indicator was down one cent to 552c/kg.
At the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 18,070 lambs, 3295 more than last week, and 9240 sheep, 2575 more.
The NLRS said it was a very good quality yarding, with a top selection of well-finished heavy weight lambs and some good trade weights. There were also some good runs of well-finished Merino lambs, but fewer light weights.
All the regular buyers operated, with light weight lambs selling firm to $3 cheaper to processors and the 12-18kg 2 scores made $85-$139. Trade lambs sold firm to $3 dearer, with the 18-24kg lambs selling from $135-$195 and averaging 760-795c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs sold $4-$9 dearer, with the 25-30kg lambs making $183-$234. Lambs over 30kg sold from $233-$268 to average 770c/kg.
Merino lambs sold firm. Trade weight Merinos made $142-$170 and heavy weights sold from $180-$200. Restocker lambs sold close to firm at $106-$160 and light weight Merinos sold to restockers for $65-$95. Hoggets sold to $200.
Most mutton grades sold $4-$7 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $65-$107 and the better 3 and 4 scores made $95-$231 for crossbreds and $223 for Merinos. Merino wethers sold to $228 and very heavy crossbred wethers made $245. Carcase prices for the better covered sheep were 540-635c/kg.
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the NLRS said there was a big drop in supply after rain, with agents yarding 8000 lambs, 5797 fewer, and 3500 sheep, 1248 less.
The yarding still had some quality heavy lambs off supplementary feed, with neat domestic and light weight lambs the most difficult to find. Quality overall was plainer with more small pen lots.
Prices were dearer, and the market gained momentum late in the auction as buyers tried to fill orders. Processor lambs over 22kg cwt gained $10-$20, with some of the best price increases recorded for heavy export pens. The supply of light weight stock was limited and store buyers could not operate like last week, which caused some price fluctuations.
Heavy export lambs sold from $260-$278. Competition was keen on the heavy trade weight lambs, 24-26kg cwt, which sold to $229 and averaged over $200. On a carcase basis, the main lines of trade and export lambs were averaging from 760-800c/kg. Late in the auction there was a run of domestic lambs above 800c/kg.
The better bred and conditioned light weight lambs made $130-$155. The market showed a softer trend over some of the plainest small lambs, with quality a factor. Well-finished Merino lambs off supplementary feed and suiting domestic orders were dearer, reaching $207.
With fewer lines of heavy mutton available, buyers weren’t prepared to compete as strongly this week, which removed some of the extreme prices of the previous sale. Dollar per head results for heavy sheep remained impressive, at up to $233 for big crossbred ewes and to $218 for Merino wethers. Most sheep made $90-$150. Good mutton was estimated to have cost processors from 540-580c/kg.
At the Central Victorian Livestock Exchange at Ballarat on Tuesday, the agents yarded 23,427 lambs, 713 fewer than last week, and 9610 sheep, 920 less, following steady rain.
The NLRS said lamb quality was average to good, with an excellent penning of heavy and extra heavy lambs. The usual buyers operated with more urgency in a mostly dearer market.
Trade weight lamb prices were $5-$10 head up on last week with the heavy and extra heavy lambs selling to $10 dearer or more in places, on weight. The extra heavy lambs reached $300 for a large pen of crossbred lambs estimated at 42kg cwt. Medium weight trade lambs, 22-24kg, sold from $184-$210 and averaged around 805c/kg.
Restockers and feeders were active and paid from $137-$177, with the light weights making $3-$80 to be dearer. Light weight 2 score lambs, 12-18kg, sold from $108-$152. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs, 18-22kg, made $153-$185 and averaged around 795c/kg. Medium trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs, 22-24kg, sold from $184-$210, or 775-850c/kg to average 805c/kg.
Heavy 3 and 4 score trade weight lambs, 24-26kg, sold from $214-$245. Extra heavy export lambs 30kg-plus, sold from $238-$300 to average 745c/kg cwt. Light trade weight Merino lambs sold from $120-$143 to average around 740c/kg. Heavy crossbred hoggets made $135-$200 and Merino hoggets sold to $138.
The sheep quality was mostly good, but there were fewer wethers and more lighter Merino sheep. Heavy Merino ewes made to $168 and heavy crossbred ewes to $214. Sheep mostly sold to a dearer trend.
Lighter sheep sold to keen demand to be $10 dearer in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep made $66-$129 and averaged around 530c/kg, with very light 1 scores making $15-$76. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $89-$155, or 470-630c/kg to average around 565c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold to $168 to average around 605c/kg. Heavy Merino wethers made $150-$175 to average around 608c/kg and medium weights sold from $110-$169. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $124-$214 to average around 530c/kg. Rams sold from $10-$139. Crossbred wethers made $150-$230.
In New South Wales at the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,750 lambs, 900 fewer than last week, and 6500 sheep, 1450 less.
The NLRS said good numbers of well-finished lambs and some plainer types were offered. The usual buyers competed in the firm to dearer market.
Light lambs reached $145. Trade weights were firm to $4 better at $150-$189. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were well-supplied and sold $4-$5 dearer. Heavy lambs to 26kg cwt sold from $180-$217 and those over 26kg made $223-$270. Carcase prices averaged 765-799c/kg.
Mutton quality was fair, with good numbers of medium and heavy weight sheep offered. Most of the sheep were Merinos and prices were strong. Merino ewes sold from $111-$245. Crossbred ewes made $125-$228 and Dorper ewes sold from $100-$194. Merino wethers made $112-$225.
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin, agents yarded 6500 lambs, 5500 fewer than last week, and 1500 sheep, 500 less.
The NLRS said a full field of trade and processor buyers, specialty butchers and several restockers operated.
Lamb quality was again extremely mixed. Many of the lambs were 2 score Merinos; however some medium and heavy weight crossbreds were in ideal trade condition.
Competition was extreme from the outset, with prices across the lamb sale increasing by $10-$15 and more in places. The best extreme heavy weights set a new saleyard record of $274.
Extremely light lambs sold $10 dearer at $60-$110, and light lambs lifted $10-$15 to make $80-$152, with carcase weight prices of 800c/kg or more not uncommon. Light trade weights made from $138-$178, up $10-$15, and medium weights sold from $160-$232, up $15.
Extreme heavy weight lambs sold $15-$20 dearer at $240-$274. Hoggets followed the trend, posting a $10-$15 rise, with lighter weights making $120-$174 and heavy weights selling from $134-$184.
Ewe mutton sold generally firm for type and condition. Lighter weight ewes sold from $65-$90, medium weights made $70-$160 and with heavy weights sold from $110-$220. Wethers were marginally dearer, with light weights making $84-$100, medium weights selling from $106-$148 and the extreme heavy weights topping at $200. Rams also sold firm, with lighter weights selling from $79-$156 and heavy weights making to $186.