Forbes lamb prices lift on quality and numbers

Sheep Central, August 11, 2021

LAMB and mutton prices continued to fall in most saleyards early this week, although rates improved for quality lambs in a lighter yarding at Forbes yesterday.

Agents said despite buyers’ hopes of price adjustments to improve margins, and generally higher year-on-year slaughter figures – 58,935 more lambs have been processed nationally up to last week — the market remains mostly sensitive to supply and quality.

Trade and heavy lambs were cheaper on Monday at Dubbo and Bendigo, but by yesterday, rates were stabilising and improving at Tamworth and Forbes as yardings adjusted to the prices paid for secondary lambs in recent weeks.

Lamb prices were also lower at Ballarat yesterday, but mainly for secondary trade and light export lambs. Agents are reporting strong demand for lambs, with rates mostly 100-200c/kg higher than last year and more than 200c/kg higher for heavy lambs. There is little impact as yet from new season lamb numbers or direct consignments affecting buyer activity at saleyards.

Dubbo trade lambs $9-$14 cheaper

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the National Livestock Reporting Service said agents yarded 23,425 lambs, 4255 fewer than last week, and 540 sheep, 350 more.

The NLRS said it was a very good quality yarding with a good number of heavy weight lambs a fair number of trade weights. There were also some excellent runs of Merino lambs and only the odd pen of new season lambs. The usual buyers operated in the mostly cheaper market.

Trade lambs were $9-$14 cheaper at $140-$235, or 840-905c/kg. A few pens of trade weight new season lambs sold from $190-$233 and a pen of heavier weights made $240. Heavy weight lambs were $7-$9 cheaper, with 24-30kg cwt lambs selling from $216-$289 or around 920c/kg.

The over 30kg lambs sold from $276-$310, or 875c/kg. Merino lambs were $10-$13 cheaper, with trade weights selling from $145-$210 and heavier lambs over 24kg making $216-$259. Lambs sold to restockers for $100-$167 and first cross ewe lambs made to $200. Hoggets sold to $212.

Most grades were represented in the mixed yarding of mutton and most sheep sold $7-$13 cheaper, while wethers were up to $10 dearer on quality. Merino ewes sold from $108-$226 and crossbred ewes made $145-$245. Merino wethers sold from $117-$245.

Bendigo lambs $10-$20 easier

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 12,500 lambs, $1000 more, and 8200 sheep, 200 more.

The NLRS said there was a winter line-up of lambs, with a lot of plainer types in small lots as tail-end drafts were sold. The supply of quality fed lambs in the heavy weight categories continued to decline.

The market was cheaper, with the general run of lambs averaging $10-$20 easier. Secondary types fell by $30 and more compared to the sale of a week ago when Bendigo had a very buoyant sale, the NLRS said.

Quality was a contributing factor to the cheaper trend; however, demand also weakened with not all the regular buyers operating or buying at capacity. Competition for light lambs was limited to a few Middle East kill processing orders and small Merinos and crossbreds were also considerably cheaper.

The smaller supply of heavy export lambs over 30kg sold from $260-$292. Heavy lambs sold mostly from $230-$260, and the better finished heavy trade lambs made $190-$230. These lambs were estimated as tracking between 820-890c/kg, with only limited sales over 900c/kg this week.

Buyers became very selective on secondary trade lambs that often showed frame, but limited fat cover or were in long woolly skins. They paid $160-$185, averaging at below 800c/kg at times. Bidding for light lambs was at lower levels, from $90-$137 for most.

Agents penned a few hundred new season lambs, with quality just reasonable rather than outstanding. The better heavy trade young lambs sold from $200-$250.

Sheep numbers lifted with ewes offered after lamb weaning and shearing. Bigger lines of Merinos and crossbreds were available. Mutton prices were $10-$25 cheaper across all weights.

Lead runs of extra heavy crossbred ewes made $200-$232 and the best big Merinos sold from $212-$241. The general run of heavy and trade weighted sheep sold from $130-$180, with better lines estimated at 630-680c/kg.

Tamworth heavy lambs slightly dearer

In NSW at the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3000 lambs, 1000 fewer, and 300 sheep, 700 less.

The quality of the lambs was mostly good, with well-finished lambs plentiful. There were limited supplies of new season lambs, while heavy weights were well supplied. The usual processors attended.

Market trends varied through the lambs, with the light and medium weight trade weights up to 20kg selling firm to slightly cheaper. The heavier weight classes up to 24kg sold to a slightly dearer trend. The heavy and extra heavy weights sold to a dearer trend and posted strong gains, but this week’s market toppers did not carry the weight of last week. There were insufficient sheep for a quote.

Ballarat trade lambs $10-$12 cheaper

In Victoria at the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9051 lambs, 4824 fewer, and 3891 sheep, 1202 fewer.

The NLRS said the very mixed lamb yarding ranged from plain to good quality. Most of the usual buyers attended.

The market started much softer to gain some momentum mid-way through the sale, ending with a cheaper result than a week ago, with sales up to $30 cheaper in places. Competition was still strong for the very neat well-covered trade weight lambs off supplementary feed gaining the best results. Light trade lambs sold to $10 softer, medium trade lambs were back $12 and heavy trade lamb prices fell $15-$20. The lighter framed lambs sold up to $25-$30 cheaper in all categories.

Heavy export lambs sold up to $10 cheaper. Extra heavy lines over 30kg were in limited supply, but sold up to $20 softer, to a top of $295.

Not many store buyers were present and paid $78-$188. Very light 1 and 2 score lambs for processor MK orders sold from $103-$175, to be $15 softer. Lambs to the trade weighing 18-22kg made $162-$196 and the 22-24kg lambs sold from $190-$233, or 870-905c/kg.

Lambs weighing 24-26kg made from $218-$249, averaging 910c/kg. Export score 4, 26-30kg lambs sold from $246-$274, averaging 910c/kg, and those over 30kg made $283-$295 to average 850c/kg. Merino lambs were in limited numbers, with the lighter weights making $97-$188 and the heavier weights $189-$231.

Sheep quality ranged from plain to good. Buyers were active, but the demand was not as strong as previous weeks, with rates $15-$25 cheaper across all categories. Heavy Merino wethers made $155-$224, or around 695-710c/kg. The lighter weights sold from $110-$174. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $170-$217, or 760-680c/kg. Extra heavy crossbred mutton made $169-$220, averaging 645c/kg.

Dublin suckers meet solid demand

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3500 lambs, 2500 fewer than last week, and 2000 sheep, 300 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was again extremely mixed and a large percentage of the offering were 2 score Merino descriptions. The new season young lambs included some ideal heavier weights and these met solid demand.

A full field of buyers attended and all were active. Pricing was erratic and reflected the quality on offer and while some large variations emerged, returns were generally firm to slightly easier than the previous sale for type and condition.

Extremely light young lambs sold from $100-$130 and light weights made $140-$152. Medium trade weights sold from $168-$196, while the few heavy weights made $222-$240. Light older lambs sold from $84-$130, light trade weights made $130-$159 and medium weights sold from $160-$198. Heavy weights sold from $192-$214 and extreme heavy weights made to $282. Hoggets of mostly heavier weights sold from $200-$280.

Mutton quality was variable and prices were generally firm. Light ewe mutton sold from $144-$172 and medium weights made $151-$204. Extreme heavy weights sold from $185-$224. Rams made $145-$238.

Naracoorte lambs firm to easier

In SA at Naracoorte on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2008 lambs, 808 fewer, and 1254 sheep, 33 fewer.

The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers competed on the mixed quality offering – including the first new season lambs — with prices ranging from firm to easier price.

The 20-22 kg new season lambs sold from $180-$186 at around 850c/kg. Light lambs to the trade made $125-$172 and the medium weights sold from $190-$220, or an estimated 850-880c/kg. The few heavy pens made $225-$286. A run of Merino lambs sold from $158-$177.

Light sheep made $105-$130 and the medium weights sold from $138-$165, or 640-680c/kg. The heavy pens sold from $168-$225.

Forbes new season trade lambs lift $4

In NSW at the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,700 lambs, 13,750 fewer, and 5600 sheep, 500 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality improved. About 4000 new season lambs were offered and most were trade weights.

Old lambs were best supplied by heavy lambs, with quality and numbers encouraging demand. Trade weights were limited and there was a bigger consignment of extra heavy weights. Merino lambs were back in numbers, but quality was plainer in the light and medium weight runs.

New season and crossbred lambs were dearer, while Merinos sold firm to cheaper. New season trade weights were $4 dearer at $186-$235 and heavy weights sold to $248, averaging 910-940c/kg. Old trade lambs to 24kg were $11-$17 dearer on a limited supply at $170-$238 or 920c/kg on average. The 24-26kg lambs sold $3-$8 dearer at $212-$258 and heavy lambs to 30kg gained $5-$8 to $247-$287, or 930c/kg. Extra heavy lambs sold from $274-320.

Merino lambs were firm to $4 cheaper, with trade weights making $156-$214 and heavy lambs to $246, or around 780c/kg.

Mutton quality improved. Prices were cheaper on the light 1 and 2 score sheep and the medium and heavy weights were around firm. Medium weight ewes sold from $126-$188. Heavy crossbred ewes made $196-$260 and heavy Merinos to $226. Very heavy Merino wethers sold to $263, with most averaging 630-660c/kg.

Muchea lambs firm to cheaper

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 3624 lambs, 524 more, and 3204 sheep, 2204 more.

The NLRS said in the lesser quality yarding there was a general drop in weights.

In the lamb section, prime trade and heavy weights remained firm at 770-820c/kg cwt. The 17-20kg light trade lambs eased $10 with store buyers wary of the potential for these types to turn into hoggets quickly. Younger light 13-16kg lambs gained $10 on stronger grazier support.

Old season light store lambs sold from $75-$122, up $10. The 17-20kg store lambs were down $10 at $110-$160. The 21-22kg trade lambs remained firm at $142-$181, or near 770c/kg. Prime 23kg plus lambs also sold firm at $174-$217, or 820c/kg.

Heavy ram lambs remained firm at $180-$229 over the larger selection. The best of the heavy hoggets eased $8 and sold from $155-$203-average 670c/kg.

The yarding of mutton met solid competition.  The best prime ewe mutton sold $10 cheaper. The few wethers penned eased $15 and heavy hoggets slipped back $8.

Medium weight 24kg and under boners gained $15 at $120-$154. Prices generally eased across the medium and heavy weight section by $10. The 25-30kg range sold at near 670c/kg, or from $141-$218. The 30kg plus sheep sold from $209-$246, down $10 to average 630c/kg.

A small selection of heavy wethers eased $15 and sold from $172-$218. Old rams were plentiful and eased $10 over the larger offering, with the best heavy weights making $140-$180.

Northern Tasmanian lambs $10-$30 cheaper

In northern Tasmania, the agents yarded 1745 lambs, 372 fewer, and 619 sheep, 461 fewer.

The NLRS said there was not as much weight as last week’s very good selection. With one major buyer out of the market, prices were significantly cheaper with heavy lambs down $15-$20, trade lambs $30 less and light trade weights down $10-$20.

Store lambs were also $10-$20 cheaper with the exception of recently shorn pens that attracted strong interest. Restockers bought very small lambs for $74-$106 and were active on light trade weights at $136-$166. Processors bought light lambs from $110-$128, light trade weights from $130-$190 and paid to $214 for trade weight lambs.

Heavy lambs sold to processors made $210-$246 and a couple of pens of extra heavy lambs sold from $262-$264.

Heavy sheep held last week’s prices levels, but medium and light sheep eased $7-$15 with many mixed quality pens included. Light ewes and wethers made $94-$100 and medium weights sold to $148. Heavy sheep sold from $166-$174 and extra heavy weights over 30 kg made $168-$188.


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