Quality light export, domestic trade and heavy lamb prices mostly held their ground or improved slightly in saleyards this week, especially where well-finished lines were offered.
Processors were discerning in some larger yardings of mixed quality lambs and while domestic and export buyers were willing to pay well over 600c/kg to secure well-finished lines, especially in Victoria, markets seem to be settling around 550-600c/kg for slaughter lines.
At Forbes in NSW, despite rates generally falling $5-$7, processors paid around 600c/kg for the best trade lambs, while at Dublin in SA and Muchea in WA, slaughter lamb carcase prices were kept under 600c/kg.
In Victoria at Bendigo on Monday, despite an easing in quality, prices lifted, with well-conditioned lambs to supermarket buyers and lightweight slaughter lambs benefiting most. The National Livestock Reporting Service said light 2 score crossbred lambs sold to processors at up to 636c/kg cwt, a rise of 53c/kg, while Merinos gained up to 40 cents and averaged 546c/kg. Trade weight 3 score crossbreds to slaughter improved 9-11 cents, averaging 554-590c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs to the same orders were 18 cents dearer at 570-580c/kg cwt.
This dearer trend continued in Victoria at Ballarat on Tuesday, with trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs making $124-$140 and heavier drafts $132-$156, within a range of 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 cwt.
In NSW at Dubbo on Monday, despite a yarding with excellent lines of heavy weight lambs, but fewer ideal trade weights, prices dipped. The NLRS said medium trade weight 3 score Merino lambs eased 31 cents to 483c/kg, while the heavy trade weights were 48 cents and averaged 505c/kg cwt. The trade weight crossbreds were 21 cents cheaper, to average 551c/kg, while the heavy 4 score lambs eased by up to 50 cents to around 554c/kg.
Mutton prices lifted for quality in Victoria, but dipped at NSW saleyards, with dwindling processor competition for overall lower supplies. Bendigo’s medium weight 2 score Merino ewes lifted 35 cents to 371c/kg cwt on Monday, while at Dubbo the NLRS said light and medium weight Merino ewes were back by up to 27 cents to around 340c/kg cwt. Medium 3 score Merino wethers eased 21 cents and averaged 371 c/kg cwt.
Lamb markets trying to settle around 550-600c/kg
Forbes stock agent Kevin Miller of Miller, Whitty, Lennon and Co said despite yarding a very good quality yarding – “the best lambs in the business” – prices dropped $5-$7 on Tuesday.
“I just think it has peaked, that’s about where it is.
“I just think the big boys don’t want to go any further than where they are,” he said.
Mr Miller said processor and buyers were telling him it is “hard enough” to sell lambs at the current prices.
“At the end of the day if they can get their lambs back to 550-560c/kg I think it will hold there, I can’t see it getting any stronger.
“Your trade lambs will get a bit over 600c/kg as we go on into June and July, but I can’t see the job taking off,” he said.
“I think it is going to thaw out pretty much where it is now.”
NLRS slaughter and restocker lamb indicators firm to dearer
After Tuesday’s saleyard markets, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the main Eastern State Daily Indicators for slaughter and restocker lambs as firm to slightly dearer. The ESDIs for lamb are: restocker, 558c/kg, up 5 cents; Merino 512c/kg, no change; light 541c/kg, down 4c; trade $574c/kg, up 2c; heavy 582c/kg, no change. The nation trade lamb indicator is at 577c/kg and the heavy indice closed at 589c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton is up 12 cents to 371c/kg and the national indice is at 360c/kg.
Over-the-hook rates lift for trade lambs in Victoria and NSW
In NSW, the NLRS said most contributors left their OTH lamb rates unchanged this week, with trade and 22-24kg heavy weight lambs just edging slightly higher. Mutton rates were also marginally dearer across all weight ranges.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 510-540c/kg, up 4 cents; 20-22kg, 530-580c/kg, up 4c; 22-26kg, 520-580c/kg, up 4c; 24-26kg, 520-580c/kg, no change; Merinos 16-22kg, 450-530c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 260-340c/kg, up 5c; 18-24kg, 290-370c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 320-370c/kg, up 3c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said lamb over-the-hook rates edged higher across most categories this week, with trade weight lambs averaging 580c/kg cwt. Mutton rates remained firm.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 580c/kg, up 7-15c; 24-26kg, 540-580c/kg, up 10c; 26kg+, 540c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 300-370c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 350-380c/kg, nc; 320-350c/kg, nc.
In SA, the NLRS said over-the-hook rates for light weight lambs averaged 540c/kg cwt, while trade weight lambs averaged 553c/kg cwt. Medium weight mutton averaged 360c/kg cwt. No trend is quoted as there wasn’t a report produced last week.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540c/kg; 18-24kg, 540-580c/kg; 24-26kg, 540c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 520c/kg. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 260-320c/kg; 18-24kg+, 340-380c/kg.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted lamb and mutton OTH rates as unchanged this week. Tasmania’s 2-4 score OTH lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 470-490c/kg; 16-18kg, 480-520c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-540c/kg; 22-26kg, 520-540kg; 26kg+, 520-530c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 280-320c/kg; 14-18kg, 300-340c/kg; 18-24kg, 320-340c/kg.
Western Australia’s OTH rates for this week were not available when the article was published.
Dubbo’s trade lambs $5-$8 cheaper
In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 22,560 lambs, 8220 more than last week, and 9750 sheep, 3510 more.
The NLRS said there were some excellent lines of heavy weight lambs yarded along with a large percentage of lightweights. Ideal trade weights were in limited supply.
Lightweight lambs to the processors were $6 cheaper, while restocker lambs were $1-$3 dearer. The 12-18kg cwt 2 scores sold from $70-$105 and lambs sold to restockers for $38-$121. Trade lambs were $5-$8 cheaper, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $92-$134. Heavy weight lambs sold $7-$10 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $116-$191, or 550-585c/kg cwt.
Merino lambs were $4 cheaper, with the trade weights selling from $88-$116, while the heavier weights sold to $130. Hoggets sold to $120.
It was a mixed quality mutton yarding and most grades were $5-$7 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $32-$76, while the better 3 and 4 score crossbreds made from $72-$116 and the Merinos sold to $122. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $84-$122.
Forbes trade lamb prices drop $4-$5
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 25,700 lambs, 4965 more than last week, and 5050 sheep, 609 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was similar to the previous sale with better finished and plainer lambs penned. Trade and heavy lambs were well supplied.
The usual buyers competed in a cheaper market. Light lambs sold from $96-$102. Trade weights sold $4-$5 easier, from $104-$137. Merino lambs sold from $94-$124. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were also $5-$7 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $137-$198, with extra heavy weights ranging from $150-$198. Carcase prices averaged from 565-604c/kg cwt. Merinos continued to make up the majority of the yarding and prices lifted $6.
Mutton quality was fair. Merino ewes sold from $79-$131. Crossbred ewes received from $84-$117. Merino wethers ranged in price from $94-$127.
Bendigo lambs lift $2-$8
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,163 lambs, 3944 more than last week, and 4176 sheep, 29 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality slipped and there was fewer well-finished lambs carrying weight. All the regular buyers attended, although competition from some exporters on the heaviest lambs was still subdued.
The market showed a dearer trend of $2-$8 across most sales, with well-conditioned lambs suiting supermarket orders and lightweight slaughter lambs recording the best price gains. Bidding reached a top of $168 for a small pen lot of extra heavy export lambs.
Lightweight lambs, 16-20kg cwt, sold strongly to processors and a handful of restocking and feedlot orders, with the bulk of sales from $90-$118 and some categories averaging over 600c/kg. Quality played a role in price outcomes for medium and heavy domestic lambs, with buyers favouring well finished shorter-skin pens.
The trend of supermarket buyers pushing into heavier weights of up to 26kg also continued. The lead pens of lambs sold to domestic orders at $138-$160. On a carcase basis there were lambs making over 600c/kg cwt, but when the heavier lots and plainer trade lambs were added into the mix price averages were mostly in the 560-590c/kg range. There were only limited pens of heavy export lambs and these sold in a tight dollar per head range of $160-$168, regardless of size, which caused some carcase price fluctuations.
Processor competition for mutton was keen despite not all the regular buyers operating at their usual capacity and prices strengthened, particularly for Merino sheep. The mutton sale was generally $6-$10 dearer, although some categories of Merino sheep improved by much more than this. Extra heavy crossbred ewes sold from $105-$130, averaging an estimated 350-360c/kg cwt. Most of the Merino sheep averaged over 400c/kg cwt, with ewes selling to $125 and wethers to $126.
Ballarat lambs $4-$8 dearer
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, with lambs mostly selling to a dearer trend, up $4-$8 on 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. They also paid from $96 to $136 for first cross mixed age ewes, and paid from $95-$120 for Merino wethers. 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, within a range of 550-640c/kg cwt to average around 600c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $145-$181 to average around 580c to 590c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $179-$202.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades, which sold to strong competition to be a few dollars dearer, although not all processors operated fully. 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 and the medium weights made $88-$107 at around 400c/kg. Rams sold from $43-$92.
Dublin’s trade lambs make $116-$152
At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin, the agents yarded 10,055 lambs, 989 fewer than last week, and 1852 sheep, 108 less.
The NLRS said the very mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to solid competition from the usual local and interstate trade and processor buyers. Feeder buyers re-emerged this week, with light weight 3 score lambs targeted at dearer rates.
Shorn 3 score crossbred lambs suitable for feeders sold from $108-$118, while light weight 3 scores to trade buyers lifted $3, selling from $102-$112 and averaging 519c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores attracted strong trade bidding to sell from $116-$136 and averaging 558c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores lifted only slightly, from $123-$152, to average 550c/kg.
Heavy weight 4 scores eased marginally and sold from $135-$170, or 515-570c/kg. The extra heavy weights lifted $8 to sell from $170-$190. Light weight Merinos were plentiful and restockers and feeders operated on 2 scores from $58-$78, while trade weight 3 scores remained unchanged to make from $92-$110 and average 489c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $3, selling from $105-$120 to average 460c/kg cwt, with one exceptional draft selling at $145.
The yarding of very plain quality sheep sold to waning processor demand. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $55-$95, returning 330c/kg on average, while heavy weight 3 scores eased up to $11 and made from $88-$116, or 341c/kg cwt. Wethers were scarce and eased marginally in price, selling from $103-$110 to average 425c/kg cwt. Heavy weight rams attracted strong demand and sold from $100-$144.
Naracoorte’s heavy lambs $6-$8 easier
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2167 lambs, 398 fewer than last week, and 797 sheep, 372 less.
The NLRS said a smaller field of trade and processor buyers attended and not all were fully active on the mixed quality offering. Prices tended to fluctuate across the market and lambs sold easier. Lightweight lambs to the trade ranged from $60-$97, while lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $90-$105.
Restockers only had a limited impact and paid $5-$10 less at $38-$97 for lighter weighted lambs. Merino lambs sold from $44 for lightweights up to a high of $115 for good quality trade weights. Trade weight 3 score lambs were in short supply and ranged from $111-$116 at an average of 550c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold $6-$8 easier, with heavy 4 scores mainly ranging from $125-$138 with one sale to a high of $162.
Fewer ewes were offered, but some strong competitive bidding lifted prices $8-$10. Lightweight types ranged from $71-$90. Medium weighted ewes ranged from mainly $78-$108 at an average of 400c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score ewes ranged from $100-$125 while rams made $70-$90.
A number of pens of sheep and lambs were kindly donated with the proceeds going to the local variety club, with the highlight being the opening pen of five lambs estimated at 34kg making $250.
Muchea lamb prices lift $4-$8
In WA at the Muchea saleyards, the agents yarded 6632 lambs, 268 fewer than last week, and 3000 sheep, 1582 less.
The NLRS said widespread rain with good falls in the coastal regions reduced numbers by almost 40 percent. Quality was fair, with some good heavy and prime lamb drafts and solid numbers of secondary and light lambs. All buyers were operational, with live exporters active on all wether categories.
Prices for prime lamb lifted by $4-$8 and other categories were also higher. Light store lambs to restockers made $30-$60, with light lamb to feed, live export and air freight processors firm to $2 dearer and making $60-$100. Trade lambs sold from $97-$128 to be $5 dearer and average close to 550c/kg cwt. Heavy lamb sold from $125-$145, with most around $4 dearer and close to 550c/kg.
There were reasonable supplies of well-conditioned mutton available along with the lighter drafts. Wether, hogget and ram supplies were limited and sold firm to slightly dearer. Ewe prices lifted $2-$6, with light weight drafts making $40-$59. The 2 score processor mutton sold from $62-$91, up $2, to average close to 340c/kg cwt. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes lifted $4 to make $75-$100.50. Wether prices remained firm to $5 dearer, with export weight drafts making $85-$112, while feeders and restockers paid mostly $70-$100. Ram lambs reached a top of $121.50 with processors, with most young rams making $50-$90. Old rams sold for $10-$70 to processors.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus and Kevin Miller, Whitty, Lennon and Co.