FIRST cross, Merino and crossbred ewe prices have hit record levels online as restockers battle for limited offerings of scanned in-lamb ewes to take advantage of recent rain.
After first cross ewes exceeded the $400 mark in recent online sales, at the AuctionsPlus sales national sheep sale on Tuesday last week several lines made from $403 to $442.
Several lines of scanned in-lamb Merino and White Dorper ewes sold for more $300 and a small line of scanned Poll Dorset-Merino cross ewes sold for $343.
All stock categories experienced an increase in value, but the largest increase in prices was achieved by first cross ewe lambs, with the average price up $55 to $289.
Prices for first cross ewes also increased, making $250 to $442 to average $363, up $27 on the previous week.
A line of 200 two year-old scanned in-lamb early July shorn ewes from the Cumming family from ‘Easedale’ at Coolamon in New South Wale’s Riverina topped the AuctionsPlus sale at $442, well above the national record of $402 set at the 2019 Naracoorte first cross ewe sale.
The Cumming ewes were early July shorn, weighed 73.6kg, were mostly in score 3 and 4 condition and scanned carrying 175pc of lambs due in July/August to Armdale Poll Dorset rams. The vendor bred ewes were out of big-framed Western Australian and Riverina bred ewes by Gleneith Border Leicester rams. A second run of 200 ewes out of the 500-strong mob made $441 and the last 100 sold for $434.
Nutrien Wagga Wagga agent James Kroker said the 2018 drop ewes would normally have been sold as maidens, but were joined and lambed down last year to maintain numbers and then rejoined.
“They are well-bred sheep, but obviously the rain is driving it and there are people looking to rebuild numbers.
“I know it is a lot of money to outlay, but you are buying young sheep that hopefully you’ve got for a number of years,” he said.
“If they can sell a sucker in the spring time and they can hopefully get $180-$190 and shear bit of wool off them you’ve still got a 2.5 year-old ewe that only owes you $220-$230.”
The Cumming ewes stayed basically local, going to buyers at Cootamundra and Yerong Creek near Wagga Wagga.
Restockers now were buying after good rain throughout the central west, slopes and Riverina regions of the state, he said.
“Some places haven’t had as much as others, but we are certainly in a better position than we were last year.
“I would rather be spending money on a breeding sheep than spending $200 on a store lamb, I think that is fraught with danger.”
He said without the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic the lamb market would be in a stronger position.
“There is still so much uncertainty at the moment, but I still think there is plenty of positivity there, but it makes it uncertain as to whether we are going to see prices higher than last year’s winter highs.”
At Barmedan in NSW, the Glenbrook operation at ‘Glendale’ sold 140 2.5 year-old late September shorn scanned first cross ewes for $425. The mostly score 4 ewes bred from Winyar blood Merino ewes by Retallack Border Leicester rams were scanned 170pc in-lamb to Kurralea White Suffolk rams for June-July drop lambs. A second line of 215 ewes scanned 153pc in lamb to the White Suffolk made $402.
Nutrien West Wyalong agent Will Dean said the sales were being driven by “a bit of grass fever.”
“But if you look at the numbers, it is pretty evident that any good killable sucker is going to make $200-plus and mutton is floating around 700c/kg.”
The Glenbrook ewes sold to a Cootamundra restocker who has had rain, but also bought another farm that needed restocking. He said the high scanning result made the ewes “even cheaper.”
The Balderstone Pastoral Company at Wannon in Victoria sold 339 June-July 2017 drop first cross ewes scanned 146pc in-lamb to Poll Dorset rams for $433. The late December shorn ewes weighed 64.2kg and were mostly score 3 and 4.
First cross ewe lambs make to $425
First cross ewe lambs sold from $220 to $425 on AuctionsPlus last week to average $289, up by $55. The top price was paid for 115 April-May 2019 drop late September shorn scanned first cross ewe lambs for $425 offered by C.N. and M. Frawley at Leigh Creek in Victoria. The lambs weighed 58.1kg, were mostly score 4, and scanned 131pc in-lamb to White Suffolk rams.
At Wellington in NSW, a line of August-October 2019 drop first cross ewe lambs weighing 29kgs sold for $271 to a Victorian buyer at Rochester.
Online sheep and lamb numbers drop
AuctionsPlus offered 50,381 sheep and lambs last week, 34,682 head fewer than the previous week. Listings were boosted by the 3566 head offered in the Westcoast Wool & Livestock ewe and lamb sale, and the national goat sale which cleared 3296 head.
AuctionsPlus said clearance rates helped lift prices and clearance rates for the smaller offering as buyers looked to secure lines before the Easter break. The sale’s overall clearance rate was 83pc.
The central west region of NSW continue to dominate online purchases, securing 22pc of the week’s catalogue, followed by the south west slopes & plains areas, with their buyers securing 14pc as they restocked after significant rainfall.
Merino ewe lambs sell to $320
Merino ewe lambs made $168-$320 and averaged $212, up $3. The top price was paid for 275 Grassy Creek and Grogansworth blood April-May 2019 drop lambs weighing 42kgs from W.N. & F.S. Swan from ‘Coppacanyan’ at Bookham, NSW. The mid-August shorn lambs were mostly score 3 in condition.
Merino ewe hoggets sold from $231 to 376, to average $293. The top price was paid for a line of 20-22 month-old Poll Merino ewes at Coomandook in South Australia. The ewes weighed 65kgs and were scanned in-lamb to White Suffolk rams.
Young Merino ewes make to $325
Young Merino ewes 2-4 years-old made $204-$325 and averaged $256, up $13. The top price was paid for 180 3-3.5 year-old early August shorn Poll Merino ewes scanned in-lamb to Poll Merino rams from Semi Arid Ag at Tintinallogy Station, Menindee, NSW. The ewes weighed 60.5kgs and were scotly score 2 and 3. At Robertstown in South Australia, a line of rising 4 year-old Pindari blood Poll Merino ewes weighing 71kg and scanned in-lamb to Poll Merino rams made $242. At Linton in Victoria, a line of Pastora blood rising 3 year-old unjoined ewes weighing 50kgs sold for $204.
Proven Merino ewes 4 years-old and older sold from $173 to $313 to average $254, up $30. The top price was paid for a line of 5 year-old Centre Plus blood ewes weighing 73kg and scanned in-lamb to Poll Dorset rams at Howlong in NSW. At Collarenebri in NSW, a line of rising 6 year-old Haddon Rig blood scanned empty ewes weighing 55kgs sold for $224.
Merino wether lambs sell to $192
Merino wether lambs averaged $155, selling from $117 to $192. From Yass, NSW a line of Kerin Poll and Tara Park blood May/Jun 19’ drop lambs, weighing 47kgs returned $181, and will travel across the border into Victoria. The older offering of Merino wethers sold from $141 to $181, averaging $157. The top price was returned by a line of Terrick blood 22-25-month-old woolgrower wethers, weighing 57kg, from Hughenden, QLD.
Other highlights included $330 paid by a NSW buyer at Walcha for a line of 2-5 year-old White Dorper ewes at Patchewollock in Victoria that weighed 68kgs and were scanned in-lamb to White Suffolk rams. At Illabo in NSW, 50 3 year-old early August shorn Poll Dorset-Merino cross ewes weighing 72.8kg and scanned in-lamb to Poll Dorset rams sold for $343.
Tasmanian offering clears
AuctionsPlus cleared all 908 mixed sex lambs offered in the Tasmanian sheep sale last week. The lambs sold from $144 to $189, to average $170. The top price was paid for a line of Sept-Oct 2019 drop White Suffolk cross lambs weighing 38kgs at Bothwell.
Scanned WA Merino ewes make to $227
In the Westcoast Wool & Livestock ewe and lamb sale, scanned in-lamb Merino ewes were hotly contested by both local and interstate buyers. A line of 18-20 month Merino ewes weighing 69kgs and scanned in-lamb to White Suffolk rams sold for the top price of $227. A line of 4-5 year-old joined Poll Merino ewes weighing 64kgs sold for $149 to a Victorian buyer.
Store lamb rates increase
AuctionsPlus offered 4582 store lambs last week that sold from 402-622c/kg liveweight and averaged 508c/kg, up 33 cents. A total clearance was achieved. Highlights included:
First cross wethers, Aug-Oct 2019 drop, 31kg, $188 or 622c/kg, Wellington, NSW
Poll Dorset cross, Aug-Sept 2019 drop, 41kg, $211 or 526c/kg, Stuart Town, NSW
First cross wethers, Aug-Sept 2019 drop, 28kg, $163 or 594c/kg, Bombala, NSW
Poll Dorset, WS & composite cross, July-Aug 2019 drop, 38kg, $191 or 519c/kg, Corowa, NSW
Primeline, July-Aug 2019 drop, 44kg, $202 or 473c/kg, Nurcoung, Victoria
First and Poll Dorset cross, Sept/Oct 2019 drop, 44kg, $175 or 402c/kg, Cunnamulla, QLD