Lamb prices started the week generally firm in saleyards across Australia, with rates dearer for heavy weights at some centres.
Numbers generally increased on last week over Monday and Tuesday within all states except Western Australia. Demand fluctuating around quality, with buyers showing a preference for weight and discounting more lambs for dry skins or grass seed.
Processors seeking lighter lambs continued to meet competition from restockers.
MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service reported the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator as unchanged on 474c/kg cwt after Tuesday’s sales, with the heavy lamb indicator up four cents on 473c/kg. The mutton indicator lost six cents to close on 319c/kg.
The national indicators reflected the general strengthening demand for restocker, Merino, trade and heavy weight lambs. The restocker indicator was at 480c/kg, up two cents; Merinos 416c/kg, up 9 cents; light lambs 444c/kg, down 10 cents; trade weights 475c/kg, no change, and; heavy weights 473c/kg, up 5 cents. The mutton indicator closed down five cents at 317c/kg.
Skin rates for sheep and lambs were fairly stable, with most contributors to the NLRS skin report leaving values unchanged.
Over-the-hook rates firm to slightly lower
Reflecting the increased lamb turn-off, processors were able to leave over-the-hook grid rates unchanged or slightly lower in most states this week. Mutton rates were mostly unchanged, except for heavy mutton.
The NLRS said the average OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs in NSW works are firm to slightly lower with mutton prices lower across all categories. Lamb rates are: 18-22kg, 492c/kg, down 2 cents; 22-24kg, 491, down 2c; 24-26kg, 475, no change; 26kg+, 467, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 395, nc. Sheep rates: 14-18kg, 258, down 3c; 18-24kg, 291, down 2c, and; 24kg+, 306, down 2c.
In Victoria, OTH trade weight rates are slightly lower, with heavy lamb prices firm to marginally cheaper. Lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 500, nc; 18-20kg, 482, -16c; 20-22kg, 492, down 6c; 22-24kg, 490, down 7c; 26kg+, 450, nc, and Merinos 16-22kg, 415, up 5c. Sheep rates: 0-14kg, 280, up 27c; 14-18, 256, down 6c; 18-24kg, 298, down 8c, and; 24kg+, 310, up 12 cents
In South Australia, OTH rates are unchanged for sheep and lambs, the NLRS said. Lamb rates are: 18-24kg, 485; 24-26kg+, 460, and Merino lambs 16-22kg, 465. Sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 180, and 18-24kg+, 260.
WA’s OTH lamb rates are unchanged at: 16-18kg, 440c/kg, -30; 18-22kg, 467c/kg, -63; 22-24kg, 465c/kg, -68; 26kg+, 453c/kg, -33; Merinos 16-22, 410c/kg, -7. Sheep: 14-18kg, 255c/kg; 18-24kg+, 277c/kg.
In Tasmania, the OTH rates for lamb and sheep were unchanged. Lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 460; 16-24kg, 490, and; 24-26kg+, 470. Sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 320c/kg; 14-18kg, 340c/kg; 18-24kg, 340c/kg.
Lambs firm to slightly dearer at Tamworth
In NSW at Tamworth on Monday, agents yarded 2960 lambs, 795 more than last week, and 2900 sheep, 1750 more.
The NLRS said there was a good supply of trade weights, with a fair number of light lambs and several pens of heavy lambs. Quality was good with mainly well-finished lambs offered, with some finished on crops. The market remained fairly stable with most lambs selling firm to slightly dearer, although some heavy weights struggled to hold firm.
The yarding of mutton was made up of mainly medium weights. There were several pens of heavy sheep, along with some light sheep. The market saw little change with quality variations the only main factor. Restocker activity was strong on suitable lines.
Heavy lambs $6-$9 dearer at Forbes
In Forbes on Tuesday, agents yarded 29,600 lambs, 6100 more than last week, and 7300 sheep, 1850 fewer.
The NLRS said there was a good selection of trade and heavy weight new season lambs in good condition. Merino lambs were also well-supplied and there were limited numbers of crossbred old lambs.
Trade weight lambs were $4 dearer, with 18-22kg new season lambs selling from $84-$128, to average 508c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $6-$9 dearer, with over 22kg new season lambs selling from $120-$147, to average 512c/kg cwt. Over 22kg old lambs sold from $115-$155. Merino lambs were $2-$5 dearer, with over 18kg Merinos selling from $76-$114. Lightweight lambs were firm, with 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $60-$91. Restockers paid to $107 and the best hoggets sold for $99.
Most weights and grades were represented in a generally good quality yarding of mutton. Plain conditioned ewes were $2 dearer, while the better medium and heavy weight sheep were $8-$10 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $42-$80, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $72-$115 for full-wool Merinos and $99 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score wethers sold from $76-$99.
Strong competition at Inverell
In Inverell on Tuesday, agents yarded 2909 lambs, 341 fewer than last week, and 1070 sheep, 80 less.
The NKLRS said more young lambs were yarded, plus a good supply of old trade weights and several pens of heavy lambs. Quality was good with most lambs well-finished. Competition was strong, with prices firm to dearer. Heavy young lambs topped at $128, while trade weights sold to a top of $108. Old season trade weight lambs sold to $100, while extra heavy weights topped at $130.
The yarding of mutton was made up of some good runs of medium weight ewes and wethers. Ewes sold to $69 and wethers to $90.
Lamb rates $2-$5 cheaper at first split Bendigo sale
In Bendigo on Monday, agents yarded 25,549 lambs, 3650 more than last week, and no sheep.
The NLRS said lamb numbers increased as the centre held its first split sale for the spring, with mutton now sold on a Thursday.
Lamb quality was mixed, with most young lambs displaying more dryness in the skin. A few pens of shorn young lambs are now coming forward. All the regular buyers attended, but not all competed throughout the sale. Prices fluctuated again this week, starting cheaper before improving as the sale progressed. Overall, the market averaged $2-$5 cheaper compared to the previous week.
The top price for new season lambs was $144 for a pen estimated at 28-29kg, with an $8 skin return. It was one of three sales over $140 and only a small number sold for over $130. The quality young export lambs averaged an estimated 475c/kg-485c/kg cwt.
The majority of the young lambs were trade weights and the market did show a fair bit of variance. Lambs with dry skins and show grass seed tended to be discounted the most. The bulk of the trade weight lambs, 20-24kg cwt, sold from $108-$128, ranging from about 450c/kg-510c/kg cwt, with the lead drafts attracting top-end domestic orders to average 470c/kg-485c/kg cwt.
There was a solid turn-out of store lamb buyers from Ballarat, Shepparton, Echuca, Birchip and the Bendigo area, and prices reached $94 for lambs to return to the paddock. However, most sales of light weight lambs to restockers were a few dollars cheaper, at $70-$87.
Quality was generally plain in the 1900 old season lambs yarded. A handful of heavy pens sold from $110-$129, with most making $71-$93 in a cheaper market.
Buyers pay for quality in big Ballarat yarding
In Ballarat on Tuesday, agents yarded 12,599 lambs, 6622 more than last week, and 12,514 sheep, 7450 more.
The NLRS said quality was mixed in the much bigger offering of young lambs, with most being plainer bred first cross lambs from grazing areas north-west of Ballarat. There were only limited pens of well-bred and finished second cross lambs. Prices fluctuated based on quality, with the best quality slaughter lambs holding their price the best. Secondary trade weight lambs averaged a few dollars cheaper.
The few pens of export weight young lambs sold from $125 to a top of $130 for a pen estimated at about 26kg cwt, with an $8 skin. The top pens of slaughter lambs displaying good condition were estimated at 470c/kg-490c/kg cwt. The majority of the young lambs were trade weights at 19-23kg and they recorded mixed price results based on quality. The lead runs sold from about $110-$119, while secondary pens made $94-$108. The number of plainer lambs sold brought the average price back to 460c/kg-465c/kg cwt. However, the better-conditioned trade weight lambs recorded better carcase prices.
Light weight young lambs received solid support from restockers from Shepparton, Birchip, Warracknabeal and the Ballarat area, with most sales from $70-$86, to average a few dollars dearer in places. There was also one sale of young first cross ewes at $126 to restockers.
The quality of the old season lambs was very mixed, ranging from very poor to good quality on some shorn lines. Prices varied based on quality, with the limited selection of better conditioned trade and export lambs receiving the best support at $93-$127.
The sheep sale comprised mostly recently-shorn Merinos which ranged from very light and plain ewes, through to some good heavy wethers. The mutton sale did show a softer trend, with heavy crossbred ewes and very lightweight sheep mostly affected.
Merino wethers sold to a top of $90 for sheep in a big skin, with most sales of heavy Merino wethers from $70-$86. Several pens of wethers sold to local restockers. Most of the quality Merino sheep were estimated at 300c/kg-330c/kg cwt. Extra-heavy crossbred ewes sold cheaper, from $73-$83. There were more very light and plain-conditioned Merino ewes and these sold from $24-$59.
More light lambs at Naracoorte
In South Australia at Naracoorte on Tuesday, agents yarded 11,890 average to good quality lambs, 4208 more than last week and 4213 sheep, 1091 more.
The NLRS said there was a large number of light weight lambs offered, with processors paying mainly from $58-$83 at around 460c/kg-470c/kg cwt. The usual buying group plus some extra competition operated in a mostly firm to slightly dearer market on the light and light trade weighted lambs. Heavy trade weights eased slightly, with the heavy export lambs $2 better.
Restockers were active from local and Ballarat areas paying from $30-$56 for light lambs, from $62-$80 for medium weights and $79-$101 for heavy drafts.
New season light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $58-$83. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $74-$96, with the heavier lots made $90-$104 at around 460c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $100-$123, to average around 470c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $126-$132.
Light and medium sheep sold mostly firm at around 280c/kg cwt, with the heavier Merino and crossbred sheep a little easier.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $34-$58. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $48-$75, ranging from 230c/kg-300c/kg, to average around 280c/kg cwt. Heavy Merino and crossbred sheep sold from $61-$85. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $71-$84.
Dublin lamb prices ease on quality
At Dublin’s SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, agents yarded 10,082 lambs, 1717 fewer than last week, and 5201 sheep, 1467 more.
The yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs lacked the condition of recent weeks and sold to easing trade and processor demand. All the usual buyers attended, but the dry condition of lambs resulted in subdued prices.
Restockers and feeders from the Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide Plains were more prominent and bought many of the lightweight crossbreds.
Lightweight, new season crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $59-$79, while lightweight 3 score crossbreds to trade buyers eased $10, selling from $78-$102, at around 423c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores followed suit, easing $10 and made from $95-$100, to average 439c/kg cwt. Heavy trade weight 4 scores eased $6, making $100-$120, to average 441c/kg cwt, with the few heavyweights yarded selling from $115-$127, to average 453c/kg cwt.
Lightweight new season Merino lambs sold from $52-$78, with trade weight 3 scores to processors making $80-$88 and the few heavy trade weights yarded selling to $110.
Old lamb numbers continue to fall, with heavyweight crossbreds ranging from $97-$130. Merinos made $92-$120, heavyweight crossbred hoggets sold from $80-$98 and heavyweight Merinos ranged from $75-$91.
The mixed quality sheep yarding sold to solid processor competition, while restockers operated on ewes from $84-$108 and wethers at $57-$72. Lightweight 2 score ewes to processors lifted $8, selling from $52-$62, while heavyweight 3 scores lifted $5, making from $55-$75/head and averaging 249c/kg cwt. Heavyweight 3 score wethers were plentiful, making $70-$86 at around 258c/kg cwt, while heavyweight rams sold from $39-$67.
Lamb prices solid at Muchea
In WA at Muchea on Tuesday, agents yarded 3600 lambs, 1533 more than last week, and 7683 sheep, 1808 fewer.
The NLRS said prices were solid though lower for the offering. The yarding included 2100 new season lambs. Good supplies of longer wool, heavy weight ewes were offered but lamb weight and quality was again largely lighter trade and store categories. Competition for ewes was stronger but varied for lambs. Wether and ram demand remained firm.
Prices for trade lambs remained close to equal, with better 18-22 kg new season lambs making close to 450c/kg cwt and selling from $85-$106. Lighter new season lambs to processors and air freight eased $4, making $55-$75. Old lambs made around 400c/kg cwt for trade weight drafts, with most sales close to equal on last week’s rates. Restockers were active on light weight lamb drafts with most sales $3 easier at $40-$53.
Ewe prices lifted $1-$3, mostly on quality, with heavy ewes making $70-$85 and good mutton from $55-$74, both close to 280c/kg cwt. Light and plain ewes sold from $35-$55.
Wethers lacked live export demand with heavy drafts going to processors from $70-$80 and other suitable drafts to feeders from $60-$80. Light weight drafts to restockers made $50-$65. All sales were at similar prices, with quality impacting quotes. Rams also remained firm, with the best ram lambs selling to $81 and other young sales to feeders ranging from $30-$65. Old rams sold to processors at $20-$55.
Source: MLA, NLRS.