Griffith’s $318 heavy lambs and $260 suckers makes three records

Terry Sim, August 22, 2018

Leeton producer Mark Tabain, centre, with his $318 lambs, with Spencer & Bennett agents Tim Hutchinson, left, and Wayne Spencer, right. Photo – Yvette McKenzie.

GRIFFITH’S saleyard in southern New South Wales has punched above its weight to now hold three Australian lamb price records in the heavy export, new season and Merino categories.

The saleyard in the major regional city in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, in the north-western part of the state’s Riverina, last Friday set a national record of $318 for heavy lambs and new mark of $260 for new season lambs.

The saleyard set the current Australian record for Merino lambs at $252 in late July.

Griffith’s saleyard is the sixth largest by throughput in the state and typically sells 550,000-600,000 sheep and lambs a year.

Saleyard manager Les Warren attributed the region’s ability to yard top quality lambs to its location in the irrigation area, proximity to large acreage broadacre dryland cropping areas to the west and the number of specialist lamb producers prepared to finish lambs in feedlots.

Last Friday, with extremely strong competition for export and trade lambs, and from a total yarding of 7650 lambs, Griffith agents sold 568 lambs for $300-plus, including 276 from Spencer and Bennett-Yenda Producers, 226 from Elders and 66 from Mark Flagg Livestock and Property.

Spencer and Bennett-Yenda Producers agent Tim Hutchinson said the record-priced $318 Poll Dorset cross lambs from Mark Tabain at Leeton sold to Thomas Foods International. The 58 grain-fed lambs were estimated at about 39kg with a $10 skin, bringing them out at about 790c/kg cwt.

The Tabain offering included another 63 lambs at $314 and 81 at $317.60, giving an average of $317 for 202 lambs. They were all bought by TFI.

Griffith sets new season lamb record price at $260

Spencer & Bennett-Yenda Producers agent Wayne Spencer with the record-priced $260 suckers from Harvey and Kath Wallace, Widgelli, at Griffith. Photo – Yvette McKenzie.

The Spencer and Bennett-Yenda Producersagency also set a new Australian record of $260 for new season lambs with 31 new season suckers from Harvey and Kath Wallace, Widgelli. Mr Hutchinson said there will be a lack of good heavy export lambs for some time.

Spencer and Bennett-Yenda Producers managing director Wayne Spencer put the record prices down to supply and demand.

“Our numbers of quality heavy lambs has certainly decreased over the last month, 6-10 weeks ago we could have two lanes of lambs that are 26-35kg cwt, whereas at the moment we are struggling to get 8-10 pens of lambs over 27-28kg.

“The other factor is that normally we do have numbers of suckers in that 23-27kg, but at the moment there is only a very, very odd pen of those,” he said.

“There are really no suckers coming through to bump the weight either.”

Mr Spencer said many producers had some early weaned lambs in on-farm feedlots. One dryland producer was able to feedlot early weaned suckers, increasing their value from $120-$130 a few weeks ago, into lambs that sold for $186-$230 yesterday.

“Most of our dryland lambs are 25-40kg liveweight.

“A lot of our dryland guys have no option but to lock them up into yards and feed them grain and a bit of hay if they can get it.”

The National Livestock Reporting Service said there were some good runs of supplementary fed finished lambs offered along with the plainer types at Griffith last week. Heavy and extra heavy weight old lambs were well supplied. The usual buyers competing strongly in another dearer market.

Griffith agents yarded 2400 fair quality new season lambs. Prices increased $15 with trade weights selling from $167-$216. Heavy weights sold from $220 to the record $260. Carcase prices averaged 928c/kg. Old light lambs averaged $125. Trade weights were $8 dearer with prices ranging from $136-$215. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were sought after and prices lifted $10-$15. Heavy lambs up to 26kg cwt sold from $215-$250. Those over 26kg were in strong demand, with five pens breaking the previous record to reach an all-time high of $318. Carcase prices averaged 880-960c/kg.

Forbes lambs reach $315

Lamb prices continued to be strong in other eastern states saleyards yesterday, reaching $315 for feedlot-finished heavy export lambs at Forbes that were estimated to have a carcase weight of 39kg with a skin value of $8-$9.

Forbes Livestock and Agency Co’s Tim Mackay said the pen of 20 $315 lambs were offered by Forbes producers T. & A. Smith, Pine Park.

Mr Mackay said many runs of 19-24kg cwt new season lambs made 900-950c/kg “all day”, with a few of the heaviest bought by JBS Australia and TFI, but most went to domestic processors and supermarkets.

“If you can keep them going for the next two months you will be alright I reckon.

“Even when Victoria kicks in, they are not going to spoil the party too much.”

Forbes agent Kevin Miller from Miller, Whitty Lennon and Co said the agents sold 70-75kg lwt lambs to $305.20, the previous national record rate held by Wagga up until Griffith sold last week.

“The top end of the lambs are very good, but they cut off pretty quickly.

“Everything is selling really well, but the blokes who are putting the grain and the effort into them are getting rewarded – they deserve to.”

Mr Miller can’t see lamb prices dipping for the next month.

“You won’t see a flush, but you will see a bigger supply, but not until the end of September and then the southern blokes will start firing about the middle of October.”

Forbes agent Scott Reid of VC Reid and Son said there is a lack of quality 30 kg-plus lambs available and mutton prices have also picked up. New trade lamb buyers in the market include Radfords and MC Herd from Victoria.

“There just seems to be an insatiable appetite for lamb and mutton at the moment.

“Normally, this time of the year we yard 40,000 lambs, and 30,000 of those would be new season lambs.”

Due to the difficult season, Mr Reid said many of the area’s new season lambs had been weaned early and sold on online and those remaining are being run on to put weight into them.

“About 80 percent of the lambs around here have been weaned and if they are lucky enough to have a bit of hay and grain they are trying to do a job on them, otherwise they are being sold as stores.”

Forbes agents yarded 26,100 lambs yesterday, up 950 on last week. The NLRS said some good lines of grain-assisted lambs were penned along with the plainer types. There were fewer heavy and extra heavy weight lambs. The usual buyers competed in the dearer market.

Forbes agents offered 8550 fair quality new season lambs. There were good numbers of well-finished lambs and some lighter store types. Trade weight prices lifted $2-$5 to $164-$219. Heavy lambs sold from $221-$245. Old light lambs made $133-$156. Trade weight old lambs were $4 better at $159-$202.

Heavy and extra heavy weights sold $10 better, with 23-26kg lines making $212-$260, and over 26kg lambs selling from $264-$315. Carcase weight prices averaged 883-937c/kg.


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