LAMB prices drifted lower in saleyards mid-week as supplies increased after Easter, with export lambs most affected.
Export lamb demand was subdued in several centres and seasonal conditions is also dampening competition on restocking lines.
But despite dry conditions affecting restocker, light and Merino demand in some markets, rates for these were generally firm to only slightly cheaper.
Demand for good quality well-finished trade lambs was solid in most centres, but secondary lambs in small lots were discounted.
With more lambs available after Easter, heavy lamb prices fell by up to $10 at Bendigo in Victoria, by up to $9 at the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin and up to $12 at Naracoorte. In New South Wales heavy lambs sold up to $7 cheaper.
Trade lambs prices fell $2-$4 in Victoria and New South Wales, but by $8-$11 in South Australia.
Meanwhile across the eastern states, processors lifted over-the-hook prices to try to attract more direct supplies away from saleyards.
In NSW, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted over-the-hook lamb rates as dearer this week. Trade weight lambs are topping at 540c/kg cwt. Mutton rates across all weight categories remain unchanged.
In Victoria, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the-hook rates increased week-on-week, while light weight and Merinos were unchanged. Trade weight indicators averaged 535c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were steady on week-ago levels.
In South Australia, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight over-the-hook lamb indicators lifted an average of 7c/kg cwt week-on-week, while light weight and Merino lambs were firm. Mutton indicators eased across all categories, with medium weights averaging 253c/kg cwt.
Tasmania’s OTH rates for sheep and lambs were quoted as unchanged and Western Australian data was unavailable when this report was published.
NLRS lamb indicators are mostly lower
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb were: restocker 543c/kg, down 2 cents; Merino 468c/kg, up 1c; light 504c/kg, down 3c; trade 518c/kg, down 2c; heavy 510c/kg, down 3. The national trade lamb indicator closed unchanged at 517c/kg and the heavy indice was down 2 cents to 509c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton finished on 309c/kg, up 6 cents, and the national indicator was up 5 cents to 308c/kg.
Dubbo’s heavy lambs drop $7
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 27,350 lambs, 6900 more than the last sale, and 14,000 sheep, 2740 more.
The NLRS said with the continuing dry conditions and the first sale for a fortnight, numbers lifted considerably. Some excellent heavy weight lambs and a fair selection of trade weights were yarded.
Light weight Merino lambs and hoggets were also well-supplied. Light weight lambs were firm, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $65-$98. Trade lambs finished $2-$4 cheaper, with the 18-23kg 3 scores making $88-$127, or 505-515c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $7 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $112-$179.
Merino lambs finished firm, with the trade weights selling from $75-$111. Heavier lambs sold to $130. Lambs sold firm to restockers, with crossbreds making $108-$113. Hoggets sold to $116.
Most grades were represented in a mixed yarding of mutton. Light weight ewes were around firm and the better medium and heavy weights were $7-$11 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $35-$73. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds made $64-$113 and Merinos made to $115. Prime conditioned Merino wethers sold from $105-$118.
Tamworth’s best lambs sell cheaper
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 4250 lambs, 950 more than last week, and 2225 sheep, 25 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to very good, with well-finished trade and heavy weights well-represented. Quite a few plain conditioned and secondary quality lots were penned. The usual trade buyers attended and there was extra restocker activity compared to the previous sale before Easter.
Well-finished lambs generally sold cheaper than the previous sale, with demand not as strong. An increase in estimated weights did see some dollar per head price increases. Secondary quality old lambs also sold to a cheaper trend, more so than that of the well-finished good quality lots. The increased restocker activity had little positive effect on prices with seasonal conditions putting pressure on prices.
Sheep quality was very mixed in a yarding that included few wethers. The market changed for plainer condition sheep when compared-the pre-Easter sale. Well-finished medium and heavy weight sheep sold to a slightly dearer trend, with some weight-related price increases.
Forbes trade lambs $3-$4 easier
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 32,250 lambs, 1613 more than last week, and 8000 sheep, 1773 more.
The NLRS said continuing dry conditions lifted the yarding. Lamb quality was similar to previous offerings, with a good number of finished lambs and plainer drier types. The usual buyers competed in a firm to easier market. Light lambs eased $3 to $94-$105. Trade weights were $3-$4 easier at $105-$126. Heavy and extra heavy lamb prices held fairly steady, with heavy lambs selling from $125-$138 and extra heavies making $140-$177. Carcase prices mostly ranged from 488-520c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $96-$128.
Mutton quality was again fair, with good numbers of medium and heavy sheep offered. Prices lifted, with Merino ewes selling from $70-$118. Crossbreds sold from $76-$114. Dorper ewes sold from $70-$100. Some handy runs of Merino wethers made $77-$104.
Bendigo’s heavy lambs fall $10
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,715 lambs, 4716 fewer than last week, and 4860 sheep, 905 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was good, with a reasonable percentage of trade and heavy slaughter lambs. The regular buyers attended, but the mood across the sale was subdued, with little urgency in bidding.
Demand for heavy export lambs from the major processors eased and this category recorded the severest price corrections of up to $10. Price results for trade weight lambs varied on quality, with the top pens in good shape and carcase finish holding their value. However, plainer types and small pen lots were discounted, resulting in varying market conditions. Light weight kill lambs and store lambs sold to restockers were often dearer.
Most export lambs, over 28kg cwt, sold from $142-$162, with only a handful of sales higher for those in top condition. Heavy lines averaged close to 480c/kg, but there were significantly lower rates in places. Demand from the major domestic processors for good trade weight lambs remained solid at $130-$144, with the best of these making 520-550c/kg. Bidding on plainer trade weight lambs fluctuated from $105-$125, with most estimated at 490-510c/kg. Merino lambs also sold to fluctuating demand, with the best supplementary fed types making up to $125. Strong demand from store buyers spiked prices for light lambs.
Sheep were dearer in all categories, including heavy crossbred ewes, which sold from $82-$110. Heavy Merino ewes in a big skin topped the sale at $115, while the lead runs of Merino wethers sold from $91-$105. Top quality drafts of sheep sold to processors made 280-340c/kg.
Ballarat’s heavy lambs drop $2-$4
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 25,011 lambs, 4162 more than last week, and 9356 sheep, 3196 more than last week.
The NLRS said lamb quality was good, with all weights and grades offered.
Extra heavy lambs made to $185, with the better covered domestic lambs selling from $123.50-$143-be close to firm on last week. Lambs generally sold a few dollars easier, with heavy and extra heavy lambs $2-$4 down on last week. There were large numbers of lighter lambs suiting restocker, feeder and processor orders. These were keenly bought by orders from Swan Hill, Bendigo, Albury, Mallee and local areas at $85-$123, with lighter drafts making $45-$75. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $74-$88.
Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $94-$117 and averaged around 540c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $114-$124, with the heavier drafts making $123-$143, or 510-570c/kg, to average around 540c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $133-$165, with the extra heavy export lambs making $160-$185 at around 500c/kg. Heavy hoggets made to $106.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades, with some good runs of Merino ewes and wethers in near-full wool. Woolly Merino wethers made to $115, with a pen of heavy shorn Merino wethers selling at $99. Although competition was keen, sheep generally sold $2-$4 easier. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $36-$77. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $42-$98.50 and ranged from 220-330c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 310c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $73-$126. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $79-$104 and the medium weights made $59-$115. Rams sold from $55-$85.50.
Dublin’s heavy lamb fall $9
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,626 lambs, 6326 more than last week, and 3852 sheep, 3010 more.
The NLRS said the crossbred and Merino lambs sold to generally easing competition from the usual trade and processor buyers.
Despite the increase in numbers, fewer heavy weight crossbreds were yarded, but prices for these lambs eased significantly. Large number of Merino lambs were yarded and although prices eased, they didn’t suffer to the same extent as their crossbred counterparts. Feeders and restockers operated on ultra-light weights and light weights and a few speculated on heavier crossbreds.
Feeders paid $35-$82 for light weight crossbred lambs and $31-$52 for several drafts of ultra-light weight Dorper lambs. Light weight 3 score crossbreds sold to trade buyers for $97-$104, easing $8, to average 466c/kg. Light trade weight 4 scores eased $11 to $105-$116 and averaged 490c/kg. Heavy trade weights eased $3 to $110-$136, averaging 499c/kg. Heavy weights eased up to $9, selling from $126-$156 or 490-499c/kg. Extreme heavy weight lambs sold to $166.
A large number of Merino lambs were yarded and light weights sold to restockers for $42-$86. Light weights sold unchanged to processors at $71-$100, or 451-474c/kg. Trade weights eased $7 to $88-$106 and averaged 459c/kg. Heavy weights eased up to $10 to $105-$148 and returned 442-467c/kg.
The mixed quality sheep yarding sold to weaker processor demand. Restockers operated on light weight, woolly ewes from $51-$91. Light weight 2 score ewes sold to processors for $50-$55, easing $3. Heavy weight 3 score ewes eased as much as $19 to $70-$78 and averaged 253c/kg. Heavy weight wethers eased $9 to $86-$107, or 321c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from 68-$90.
Naracoorte’s heavy lambs lose $12
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1685 lambs, 378 more than last week, and 1164 sheep, 442 more.
The NLRS said a larger field of trade and processor buyers was active, with some restockers also seeking supply. Lamb prices softened. Light weight lambs sold from $50-$100, with light weight Merinos making $42-$74. Restockers paid $52-$104 and also purchased a pen of first cross ewe lambs for $130. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $99-$114 and similar Merinos made $64-$97. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $108-$120 and averaged 520c/kg to be back $8. Heavy 4 score lambs made $114-$128, back $12. Extra heavy export weight types sold from $130-$148.
Prices rose for light sheep and stayed firm for heavy sheep. Light weight ewes sold from $38-$55 and medium weights made $68-$80 at an average of 320c/kg. A small number of Merino ewes were bought by a restocker for $90-$99, while heavy sheep sold mainly for $88-$103 to be firm in price. Hoggets ranged from $95-$125. Wethers sold to $105 and rams made to $76.
Muchea buyers less active
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,800 lambs, 7450 more than last week, and 5220 sheep, 2986 more.
The NLRS said lambs again dominated the market, with good supplies of prime heavy and trade weights along with large numbers of secondary trades and light stores. Buyers from all sectors were present, but heavy direct to works supplies meant principal lamb buyers were less active.
Lamb prices slipped on the heavier weight and secondary trade weight drafts, but light and store light weights held close to firm. Light store lambs sold from $30-$65 to be up to $4 dearer. Lighter lamb suitable for air freight processors and restockers made $55-$90, equal to last week. Trade weight lambs were around $5 easier, with lambs lacking finish and secondary drafts most affected. Better trade lambs made $85-$110, close to averaging 460c/kg. Plainer drafts mostly sold to restockers for $75-$100 and a 420c/kg average. Heavy lambs made to $115 and were also around $6 cheaper.
Ewe supplies also increased with some large drafts of medium and heavy weight mutton offered. Ewe mutton and export wether prices were stronger with extra competition. Light weight and conditioned ewes sold from $25-$63, up slightly on last week. The 2 score medium weight mutton suitable for processor orders were up $3, making $44-$72, for close to 280c/kg average. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes made $58-$84 and were also up to $6 dearer. Wether prices were mixed, with the better wethers dearer. However, plainer and store wether drafts barely maintained last week’s prices. Export weight wethers made $80-$110 and were around $6 dearer, while the restockers paid $40-$90, $2 down on last week. Rams were not in demand, with ram lambs selling to $86 and young drafts for export orders making $20-$77. Old rams were difficult to sell, with most making $5-$15.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.