Quality and medium trade lambs sold dearer mid-week in eastern states saleyards as supply nationally fell and rain drew restockers out to compete against processors.
Rates for all slaughter lambs bar the heavy export lines are generally settling above 600c/kg cwt in most eastern states centres as domestic buyers go heavier and some exporters back off in saleyards.
Coles last week brought out a spot price of 620c/kg for 18-25kg cwt lambs and agents expect other buyers to follow its lead.
Mutton prices also strengthened to 400c/kg and better for well-covered medium and heavy lines despite few buyers in the market and several centres managing to yard more sheep mid-week.
Will trade lambs get to 700c/kg?
At Hamilton on Wednesday, Lanyons auctioneer Warren Clark said the market was very strong for lambs whose quality reflected the season. The medium, heavy trade and light export lambs were making around 600c/kg.
“There is hardly a lamb making under 600c/kg cwt.”
Mr Clark said only the under-done 18kg cwt lamb was struggling to make 600c/kg, whereas 2-3 weeks ago these were being propped up by store buyers.
“Obviously they’ve disappeared because you’ve really got to worry about age of the lambs and when they are going to finish.”
He said some exporters were not buying lambs and those operating were going as low as 23kg cwt, while supermarkets are purchasing up to 24-25kg.
“So it is pretty strong for those lambs that are 21-25kg if they are finished.”
Mr Clark said the worry is that lamb prices might get to 700c/kg cwt and ignite a media-fuelled consumer reaction.
“Who knows? It’s been there before — it is not like the cattle market where we are in uncharted territory — we’ve been up there before.
“I wouldn’t have thought so, but it might.”
Mr Clark said he could not remember a previous time in the industry where wool, lamb, mutton and beef prices were all good.
Wagga trade lambs settling around 600c/kg
In NSW at Wagga on Thursday, Landmark livestock manager Peter Cabot said prices for the better medium and heavy trades are consistently making 600c/kg or more, with domestic buyers buying heavier lines because they can’t get enough light lambs.
“I would say for the last three to four weeks they’ve been making around 600c/kg.”
One feedlot buyer was very strong at Wagga yesterday, paying up to $136 for lambs. One line of heavy export lines sold for $206 and were estimated at 40kg dressed.
“I reckon or heavy lambs are making 550c/kg-plus.”
NLRS lamb indicators lift
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted all its Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb categories, except for heavy lambs, as lifting after Thursday’s saleyard sales. The ESDIs for lambs are: restocker 566c/kg, down 6 cents; Merino 508c/kg, up 6c; light 540c/kg, up 4c; trade 578c/kg, up 3c; heavy 580c/kg down 1c. The national trade lamb indicator was up 3 cents at 582c/kg and the heavy indice is down one cent on 581c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton closed up 5 cents to 377c/kg and its national counterpart is at 376c/kg, also up 5 cents.
Carcoar’s trade lambs up $5
In NSW on Wednesday at Carcoar’s Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange, the agents yarded 7950 lambs, 450 fewer than last week, and 3400 sheep, 800 more.
The NLRS the quality of the trade and heavy lambs was good, but there were some plainer secondary lines. Mainly trade and heavy weights were penned, along with a fair supply of store lambs suitable for the restockers. All the buyers competed solidly, resulting in a generally firm market. The better trade lambs sold to a dearer trend.
Light lambs to the processors averaged $101, while stores ranged from $75-$107, up $2. Medium and heavy trade weight lambs were firm to $5 dearer and ranged from 584-595c/kg cwt. Most of the heavy trade weights sold from $130-$140. Heavy weight lambs were firm and made from 555-587c/kg. A couple of pens of extra heavy weight lambs sold from $173-$198.
Mutton quality was mixed. Medium Merino ewes were a couple of dollars cheaper and ranged from $68-$87, or 336-364c/kg cwt. Heavy first cross ewes were dearer and averaged $121, or 358c/kg. Heavy Merino wethers averaged $108, or 378c/kg.
Cootamundra lambs slightly cheaper
At the Cootamundra saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2893 sheep, 1607 fewer than last week, and 4200 sheep, 1800 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality improved slightly, with fewer store lambs offered. Trade weights were well-supplied and heavy weights were limited. All the usual buyers operated in a slightly cheaper market compared to last fortnight’s sale.
Light restocking lambs ranged from $65-$113. Trade weights sold from $108-$135, to average 565c/kg cwt for the heavy weights. Heavy lambs held firm and made from $132-$159, averaging 585c/kg.
Mutton quality improved, with plenty of well-covered sheep yarded. Prices sold to a stronger trend of $4-$6. Medium weight ewes ranged from $75-$116. Heavy ewes sold from $100-$124. Heavy Merino wethers made to $125. The better covered lines ranged from 420-430c/kg cwt on average.
Wagga’s light and trade lambs dearer after rain
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 28,000 lambs, 2000 fewer than last week, and 8600 sheep, 2700 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with a greater variance across lighter weight categories. A full field of buyers attended, but not all major export companies operated fully. There was increased competition from local restockers after receiving rain earlier in the week. Trade lambs were in greater supply and quality improved, which caused prices to lift for well-finished shorter skinned lambs. Light trade weight lambs were in reasonable supply and strong lot feeder demand created a dearer price trend.
Light trade lambs to slaughter averaged 123.60. Medium and heavy trade lambs were in reasonable supply and quality pens of lambs suitable for major domestic processors and select butcher orders lifted prices $3, to average 619c/kg cwt. The better pens of shorter skinned lambs, 20-22kg, made from $140-$151.20. Merino lambs were well-supplied and well-finished pens suitable for the trade made from $108-$135.60. Plainer light weight lambs to the processors sold $7-$13 dearer due to a stronger level of restocker demand. Rain inspired increased local restocking competition, with prices in general lifting $4-$7 higher. Well-bred lambs returning to the paddock made from $90-$113. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold to weaker competition, with only one major processor operating sporadically on the better-finished pens. The bulk of the heavy and extra heavy lambs made from $160-$206. Heavy lambs averaged 611c/kg cwt, while the extra heavy pens averaged from 594c/kg.
Mutton quality was mixed, with most of the sheep medium and heavy weights. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were well-supplied and competition strengthened due to increased buying competition in this category from the south. Trade sheep made from $72-$118 to average 397c/kg cwt. There were more heavy sheep and the heavy wether portion ignited bidding for live export. Heavy wethers made from $108-$143.20 to average 426c/kg. Heavy ewes ranged from $110-$135.
Ballarat lambs sell $4-$8 dearer
In Victoria at the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,931 lambs, 4032 fewer than last week, and 4715 sheep, 1518 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was again good. Most of the regular buyers operated strongly in wet conditions.
Lambs mostly sold $4-$8 dearer than last week, and more in places. Well-finished lambs suitable for the domestic trade sold to very keen competition, as did the several pens of excellent quality extra heavy export lambs that sold from $200-$202. Restockers and feeders were again active, sourcing lambs from $78-$116.50. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $83-$99. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $95-$130. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $124-$140, with the heavier drafts making $132-$156, or 550-640c/kg cwt to average around 600c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $145-$181 to average around 580-590c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $179-$202.
The reduced sheep offering included all weights and grades, with sheep also selling to strong competition to be a few dollars dearer, although not all processors operated fully. Restockers paid from $96-$136 for first cross mixed age ewes and from $95-$120 for Merino wethers. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $50-$80, with very light 1 scores selling from $15-$66. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $68-$100 or 330-410c/kg cwt, with Merinos averaging 390c/kg and the crossbreds 370c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $88-$135. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $110-$122, with the medium weights selling from $88-$107 at around 400c/kg. Rams sold from $43-$92.
Best Hamilton trade and heavy lambs up $3-$7
At the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6048 lambs, 392 fewer than last week, and 4115 sheep, 1238 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with some good pens of medium and heavy trade weights, though most were lighter secondary 1 and 2 scores, suiting some of the usual buyers.
Restockers were active in the sale, as extra light lambs came back $5-$6 at times, while some local agents purchased Merino lambs and sheep. Light trade lambs were unchanged, as the processors competed strongly and paid $3-$7 more for the better-finished medium domestic and heavy trade lambs. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $59-$102 and the light trade 2 scores sold from $103-$122. Medium trade and heavy trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $117-$140, to average 605c/kg cwt. The extra heavy 4 score lambs made $143-$172, averaging around 590c/kg.
Light 1 and 2 score sheep were cheaper in places by $3-$4, but overall the market was unchanged for the medium 2 and 3 score mutton. The heavier 4 score sheep were firm to $3 dearer at times and prices ranged from 350-370c/kg cwt. Light sheep sold from $48-$71, medium trade mutton made from $75-$91 and the heavy cross bred ewes sold up to $125. Best Merino wethers, 3 and 4 score, made from $92-$110, to average 400c/kg. Some young ram lambs made $100 and the better rams sold from $75-$89.
Horsham trade lambs firm
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 5616 lambs, 3221 fewer than last week, and 1464 sheep, 441 less.
The NLRS said most of the usual buyers operated in a generally firm market on the trade weight lambs. The heavier lambs sold a few dollars easier, although the quality was not as good.
Restocking activity was limited to a few pens of lambs making $85-$95. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $78-$90. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $97-$117. Medium weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $120-$148, or from 540-610c/kg cwt, to average around 580c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $147-$177. Heavier Merino lambs sold from $113-$132 and the medium weights made $82-$99. Heavy hoggets sold from $100-$118.
More lighter sheep were yarded, with most sheep selling firm to a few dollars up on last week. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $55-$88. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $78-$105 or from 380-430c/kg cwt, to average around 390c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $105-$126, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $101-$130 and the medium weights making $83-$105, at around 400c/kg.
Ouyen lambs up $5-$8
On Thursday at the Ouyen Livestock Exchange, the agents offered 11,219 lambs and 1653 sheep.
All the regular buyers attended, but not all were active. Despite this, prices for quality export lambs reached $196 or 580c/kg, up $5-$8 on the previous sale.
Export weight crossbred lambs sold from $146-$196 or 550-580c/kg cwt and the trade weights made $108-$155 or 570-610c/kg. The store and light lambs sold from $44-$103. Light Merino lambs sold from $43-$108 and the heavy weights made $103-$133 or 500-540c/kg.
Mutton prices were $5 dearer. Light sold from $39-$95.60 or 380-410c/kg cwt and the heavy weights made $95-$142.60 or 360-400c/kg.
Mt Gambier trade lambs $5 dearer
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1653 lambs, 21 more than last week, and 142 sheep, 21 fewer.
The NLRS said the mixed quality lamb yarding sold to a smaller field of trade and processor buyers.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade for $62-$106, with a small number purchased by restockers making $89-$105. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs ranged from $100-$113, to be firm in price. The trade weight 3 score lambs sold up to $5 dearer, from $108-$130, to average 530c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs mainly ranged from $126-$146, and up to $160 for one pen of lambs.
Hoggets sold to $115 and light weight ewes ranged from $42-$65. Heavy ewes sold to $116 and rams to $43.
Katanning lambs get solid competition
In WA at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 8443 lambs, 2963 fewer than last week, and 8000 sheep, 1500 more.
The NLRS said the good quality yarding sold to solid competition was solid from a full field of buyers and prices remained firm on last week’s market. Light store lambs sold from $30-$50. Air freight lambs sold from $57-$100 to average $86. Crossbred lambs weighing 18-22kg were firm, making from $75-$121, while Merino lambs 18-22kg sold from $45-$100 to average $95, down $5. Merino lambs to restockers sold from $63-$67. Heavy lambs over 22kg sold from $99-$140.
Buyers were a little erratic on mutton, with prices easing on last week’s market due to the high number yarded. The light ewes made $21-$76, down $5. The 2 score processor mutton made from $45-$76 and the better 3 score mutton with fleece sold up to $98. Wether prices were firm with the lightweight Merinos selling from $52-$95. Export wethers sold from $85-$115. Rams remained firm, with export rams making $72-$103 and ram lambs up to $92.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, Ouyen Livestock Exchange.