Domestic Lamb

Fresh lambs with finish and weight getting harder to find

Sheep Central, November 12, 2014

lambs - tags1Quality trade and heavy lambs were harder to find and dearer across the nation in saleyards this week.

Elders livestock manager at Ballarat, Graeme Nicholson, said quality heavy lambs were scarce, saleyards are dealing with a lot of store lambs and there was seasonal pressure on farmers to sell earlier than normal.

“It is very dry west of Ballarat and increasingly getting drier closer to Ballarat and even the Melbourne side which has been very good, is starting to come under stress.

“I reckon the Ballarat market is three weeks ahead – we had 50,000 sheep and lambs yesterday, which is unusual for this time of the year,” he said.

“We’ve have been yarding big numbers since early October and I would say by about Christmas we would be finished.”

Fewer top class lambs yarded

However, although higher numbers of lambs are coming off earlier, buyers are still not able to get sufficient lambs of the quality they want, he said.

“Out of a yarding 40,000 lambs yesterday, you would say there would be 5000-6000 top class lambs.

“The balance was made up of off-the-top lambs and a lot of store and secondary lambs,” he said.

“There were a few of the better heavy lambs yesterday, but only a few.

“Our best lambs made $141 yesterday, well we haven’t yarded lambs as heavy as that for the year.”

Market indicators lift for heavy and trade lambs

MLA’s NLRS reports highlighted the continued demand for restocking lambs and quality heavy mutton, with rates only slipping when yardings lacked quality or adequate weight, or regular restocker buyers were absent.

The NLRS said the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator closed on Tuesday at 456c/kg cwt, up three cents, and the ES heavy lamb indice was at 456c/kg cwt, up one cent. The ES mutton indicator closed at 310c/kg cwt, up two cents.

The national lamb indicators also reflected the buying priorities of good restocking lambs and quality trade and heavy lambs, and mutton. The national lamb cwt indicators today are: restocker 461c/kg, up 2 cents; Merino 396c/kg, down 3c; light 432c/kg, down 5c; trade 454c/kg, up3c; heavy 455c/kg, up 1c. The mutton indicator is at 309c/kg cwt, down two cents.

OTH lamb rates drop slightly on quality in NSW

In NSW, the NLRS said OTH lamb rates decreased marginally across all weight categories this week with the dry conditions taking a toll on quality. Mutton rates improved over all weight ranges as the physical market lifted last week.

NSW’s average OTH lamb rates for 2-4 scores are: 18-20kg, 463c/kg cwt, down 5 cents; 2-22kg, 467c/kg, down 3c; 22-24kg, 436c/kg, down 5c; 24-26kg, 436c/kg, down 6c; 26kg+, 438c/kg, down 6c; Merinos 16-22kg, 400c/kg. The sheep OTH rates are: 14-18kg, 248c/kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 277c/kg, up 8c; 24kg+, 293c/kg, up 7c.

OTH trade lamb rates decrease in Victoria

In Victoria, the NLRS said OTH lamb rates for 16-22kg carcases decreased, while all other weight ranges remained unchanged. Mutton rates across all weight categories were dearer, after last week’s higher physical market prices. Victoria’s average OTH lamb rates for 2-4 scores are: 16-18kg, 450c/kg, down 5c; 18-20kg, 454c/kg, down 2c; 20-22kg, 462c/kg, down 2c; 22-24kg, 465c/kg, no change; 24-26kg, 450c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 430c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 405c/kg, nc. Sheep OTH rates are: 14-18kg, 250c/kg, up 18c; 18-24kg, 272c/kg, up 14c; 24kg+, 253c/kg, up 13c.

OTH lamb rates lift in SA

In SA, the NLRS said OTH lamb and mutton rates were marginally higher across all weight ranges this week. SA’s average OTH lamb rates for 2-4 scores are: 16-18kg, 460c/kg; 18-24kg, 463c/kg; 24-26kg, 450c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 420c/kg. Sheep OTH rates are: 14-18kg, 222c/kg; 18-24kg, 270c/kg; 24kg+, 245c/kg.

OTH rates unchanged in WA and Tasmania

In WA, the NLRS said OTH lamb and mutton rates were unchanged. WA’s average OTH lamb rates for 2-4 scores are: 16-18kg, 425c/kg, nc; 18-22kg, 440c/kg, nc; 22-26kg, 445c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 433c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 393c/kg, nc. Sheep OTH rates are: 14-18kg, 235c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 250c/kg, nc.

In Tasmania, there was no change to OTH rates. Tasmania’s average OTH lamb rates for 2-4 scores are: 0-16kg, 430c/kg, nc; 16-18kg, 460c/kg, nc; 18-26kg, 470c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 460c/kg, nc. The sheep OTH rates are: 0-14kg, 260c/kg, nc; 14-24kg, 280c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 250c/kg, nc.

Trade lambs $2 cheaper at Dubbo

In NSW at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 9750 lambs, 3130 fewer than last week, and 9890 sheep, 3560 more.

The NLRS said there were fair numbers of trade weight lambs and only limited numbers of heavy weights. There were good numbers of light weight crossbred and Merino lambs.

Two regular operators were absent and light weight lambs were $4 cheaper. The 12-18kg 2 score lambs sold from $52-$80. The trade lambs were firm to $2 cheaper, with the 18-22kg new season lambs selling from $78-$109 to average between 445c/kg-460c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were firm with the over 22kg new season lambs selling to $123, while the over 22kg old lambs made $106-$135. The Merino lambs were $3 cheaper, with trade weights selling from $70-$96.

The plainer quality yarding of mutton had more lightweight sheep than previous sales. Light and medium weight ewes and wethers were $4-$6 cheaper, with odd sales dearer. The better heavier weight ewes were firm. The 2 score ewes sold from $27-$61 with some support from the restockers. The 3 and 4 score ewes sold from $54-$99 for Merinos and $88 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $57-$100.

Lambs $3-$10 dearer at Tamworth

In the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 1420 lambs, 960 fewer than last week, and 720 lambs, 380 less.

The NLRS said the quality of the lambs was fair to good, with equal numbers of young and old lambs penned. All regular orders operated and demand outweighed supply.

The lack of numbers created strong competition for lambs of all classes. The well-finished trade weight young lambs sold to butchers and wholesalers at a dearer trend of $3-$8. With a limited supply of young lamb, some butcher orders satisfied requirements with old lambs. The market trend was also dearer, with well-finished medium and heavy weights up by $3-$10.

Demand for the limited supply of sheep was also high. Market trends throughout all weight and fat classes were dearer and showed significant gains. There were no issues with excess weight.

Forbes lambs firm to cheaper

In the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10650 lambs, 2200 fewer than last week, and 6300 sheep, 3150 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality continues to be very mixed, with some good lines of finished lambs offered along with the plainer, drier types. Most of the usual buyers competed, along with restockers in a firm to slightly cheaper market.

There were 3250 new season lambs penned. Restockers paid from $57-$98 for the light store types. Light lambs eased $2, selling from $86-$96. Trade weights were firm to $3 easier, with prices ranging from $97-$114. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were also firm to $2 easier at $118-$127. Carcase prices averaged from 460c/kg-474c/kg cwt. Old trade weight lambs sold from $82-$104. Heavy lambs made $106-$120 and extra heavy weights sold from $112-$140. Merino lambs made $63-$90.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality reduced slightly from the last sale. Merino ewes sold from $76-$104. Crossbred ewes ranged from $74-$97 and Dorper ewes made $60-$89. Merino wethers sold from $76-$97.

Lambs sell firm at Inverell

In the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2177 lambs, 165 fewer than last week, and 535 sheep, 1054 less.

The NLRS said there were a few pens of well-finished young lambs and overall quality was fairly good. Trade weight lambs made up a large percentage of the lamb yarding and there were several pens of heavy lambs.

The market was firm for young lambs. Trade weight old lambs made the best gains, with some sales up to $10 dearer, but there was little change in heavy lamb rates.

The small yarding of mutton was of mixed quality and sold mainly unchanged compared to the previous sale.

Best trade lambs $2-$4 dearer at Bendigo

In Victoria, at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 14,929 lambs, 18 more than last week.

The NLRS said there were some good quality first draft young lambs from southern grazing areas, but most lambs were in plainer condition with dry skins. The usual buyers rewarded the limited numbers of better quality slaughter lambs, which averaged $2-$4 dearer. The secondary pens of export and domestic lambs generally sold at similar prices to the previous week. The market reached a top of $138 for young lambs weighing 27-28kg with a $9 skin. It was one of eight sales of heavy export lambs to make over $130.

Light weight lambs were dearer, gaining $2-$6, but it was the very plainest and small lambs that recorded the biggest increases. Restockers from Shepparton, Echuca, Swan Hill, Finley and the local area paid from $65-$91 for most store lambs, with very young lambs down to $34. Processors also competed strongly for suitable light weight slaughter lambs, paying $73-$90 for most.

Most pens of trade weight young lambs of reasonable quality and finish made from $96-$118. Good heavy lambs were in limited supply. There were about 24 pens of 24-26kg cwt young lambs that sold from $120-$129 and just eight pens of extra heavy export lambs made over $130, with a market top of $138. The very best slaughter lambs did make a slight premium at an estimated 470c/kg-480c/kg cwt. Included in this was the best pens of recently shorn young lambs, with no skin value, which topped at $123. The general run of slaughter lambs sold in a range of 440c/kg-465c/kg cwt. The normal combined sale of sheep and lambs will recommence next week on November 17.

Best trade and heavy lambs $2-$5 dearer at Ballarat

In the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 38,844 lambs, 4094 more than last week, and 10,683 sheep, 3079 more.

The NLRS said quality was good over the trade and heavy lambs, although lambs are generally lacking a little bit of polish. The large numbers of light lambs suitable for processors and restockers sold to the latter for $70-$97.50 for the heaviest and $30-$64 for the lighter drafts. The usual buyers operated keenly, with the better-presented trade and heavy lambs generally selling $2-$5 higher on quality and averaging around 460c/kg-465c/kg cwt. Several pens of heavy lambs sold to a market top of $143.

Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $58-$78. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold mostly from $70-$95, with the heavier lots making $84-$104. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $92-$113, with the heavier drafts making $108-$125, or from 410c/kg-490c/kg cwt, averaging around 460c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $116.50-$143 to average around 465c/kg cwt.

The good quality sheep offering included many well-presented lines of both Merino and crossbred sheep. Competition was again very strong from northern processors, with most sheep selling a few dollars better. Well-finished heavy Merino wethers sold to a top of $100 and a pen of four-year-old first cross ewes sold to restockers for $92. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $38-$64.50, with very light 1 scores made $10-$45. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $55-$86 and ranged from 265c/kg-360c/kg cwt, to average around 300c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $70-$94, with heavy crossbred wethers making $79-$92. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $79-$100 and medium weights made $54-$82, to average around 320c/kg cwt.

Restockers lift light lamb prices $10 at Naracoorte

In SA at the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 16,185 lambs, 8378 fewer than last week, and 4683 sheep, 873 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality dropped and rates eased up to 20c/kg for lines bought by trade and processor buyers. However, an increase in restocker support resulted in the light lambs to turn-out being firm to as much as $10 dearer in places.

Light weight lambs ranged from $40-$82, with the light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs from $80-$102. The large restocker presence was active at $69-$90 for these lighter weighted lambs. Medium weighted 3 and 4 score trade lambs ranged from $84-$110 to average 430c/kg cwt, with a small number bought by restockers from $79-$86. Heavy trade lambs sold from $100-$119 to average 440c/kg cwt, while the extra heavy lambs made from $126-$138, with one pen of excellent heavy shorn lambs making $140.

Sheep numbers again increased and the light weight ewes sold from $42-$65, with medium weights making $58-$80. These ewes averaged 320c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 to 5 scores sold from $72-$92. The few wethers offered sold from $85-$95, with rams making $17-$32.

Heavy lambs up $10 at Dublin

At Dublin’s SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8232 lambs, 753 more than last week, and 4258 sheep, 191 more.

The NLRS said the mixed crossbred and Merino lamb yarding sold to erratic competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. A large percentage of the yarding showed signs of the prolonged dry spell and longer wool lambs without finish were discounted. Feeder buyers from the mid-North and Adelaide Plains were prominent, but despite this suitable crossbreds eased in price.

Very light weight 2 score crossbreds eased $4, to $42-$56, while light weights eased $2, selling from $54-$87, and light weight 3 scores made $80-$92. Light weight 3 score crossbreds to trade buyers were plentiful, selling from $85-$93 and averaging 417c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $3, selling from $99-$107 and averaging 463c/kg cwt, while the heavy trade weights lifted marginally to make from $105-$116 or an average 441c/kg cwt. Heavy weights lifted up to $10, selling from $120-$130 or 436c/kg-459c/kg cwt.

Light weight 2 score Merino lambs sold from $60-$76, while the trade weight 3 scores lifted $2-$7 and sold from $70-$98. Heavy weight Merinos sold from $88-$107 to average 384c/kg cwt.

Restockers purchased very light weight ewes at $15, while light weight 2 score ewes to processors lifted $2 and sold from $50-$68, averaging 238c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 scores lifted $2, selling from $62-$80 and averaging 234c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers sold to restockers from $68-$71, as heavy weights for slaughter sold from $65-$77 to average 264c/kg cwt, and heavy weight rams returned vendors $30-$47.

Processors keen at Muchea

In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3500 lambs, 200 fewer than last week, and 4270 sheep, 1519 fewer.

The NLRS said harvest priorities resulted in a solid reduction in numbers. Ewe mutton was the biggest category, with crossbred lambs and Merino lambs in similar numbers. Quality continued to slip, with very limited numbers of well-conditioned ewes and only a few pens of finished trade lambs. All buyers were present, with restockers again seeking stores to turn out on stubble and live export activity on suitable wether and lamb drafts. Processors were keen to secure lambs and mutton, resulting in prices continuing their upwards shift.

Light store lambs to restockers lifted $3 and made from $30-$85, with Merino drafts at $30-$55. Light lambs to processors were $5 dearer, with most from $75-$95. Trade lambs weighing 18-22kg cwt sold from $97-$130 and were $8 dearer. Better finished trade lambs made 520c/kg-560c/kg cwt, with prices driven by very the limited numbers available.

Mutton also sold dearer, with very light ewes $4 dearer from $30-$55. The 2 score processor drafts made $48-$75 to be $6 dearer and averaged 300c/kg cwt. Better 3 and 4 score ewes, including heavy weight drafts, made from $64-$92, up $5 and averaging close to 295c/kg cwt. Restockers paid $64-$92 for the better mature ewes and $55-$71 for ewe hoggets — up to $5 dearer. Wether sales lifted $2-$5 due to increased live export activity. Light store wethers made $55-$75, with heavier weight drafts from $70-$85. Live export and processors competed on better and heavy drafts, with most sales from $70-$95. Ram lambs sold strongly to a top of $114 and were $10 dearer, with better young rams to export and feeders making $40-$79. Old rams to processors made $30-$45.

Sources: MLA, NLRS.

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