SLAUGHTER lamb prices generally improved slightly in most centres early this week as further rain tightened supply and buyers battled for quality trade and export weight lines.
With the impacts of recent rain disrupting the flow of lambs to saleyards and direct to abattoirs, processors seeking supplies have raised over-the-hook rates.
Prices for quality trade and heavy lambs are tracking solidly above 600c/kg, lifting $5-$10 at most centres, with only prices for secondary drafts losing ground with buyers.
Trade demand was strongest for heavy lambs early this week, from domestic and export buyers, with the Eastern States Daily Indicator for the category rising 5c/kg on Tuesday to 619c/kg.
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the ESDIs for lambs were: restocker 612c/kg, down 1 cent; Merino 560c/kg, up 5c; light 591c/kg, up 2c; trade 610c/kg, up 1c; heavy 619c/kg, up 5c. The national trade lamb indicator rose 1 cent to 609c/kg, and the heavy indice lifted 6 cents to 620c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton was unchanged on 401c/kg and the national indicator was steady on 397c/kg.
Over-the-hook rates moving up
In New South Wales, the NLRS said wet weather is expected to affect yardings across the state this week and most contributors held off on changing their lamb rates, with only slight upward adjustments. Mutton rates remain stable across all weight categories.
The NSW OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 560-620c/kg, up 8c/kg; 20-24kg, 580-620c/kg, up 8c; 24-26kg, 570-600c/kg, up 10c; Merino 16-22kg, 490-570c/kg, no change. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 330c/kg; 18-24kg, 340-380c/kg; 24kg+, 350-400c/kg.
In Victoria, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight over-the-hook lamb indicators moved higher this week, with trade weights averaging 613c/kg cwt. Light weight mutton was up 10c/kg cwt on average, while medium and heavy weight indicators were 7c/kg cwt higher.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 116-2kg, 600-620c/kg, no change to 7c/kg up; 22-24kg, 580-620c/kg, up 10c; 24-26kg, 580c/kg, up 10-20c; Merinos 16-22kg, 520-540c/kg, up 3c. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 320-340c/kg, up 10c; 18-24kg, 340-370c/kg, up 7c; 24kg+, 300-360cv/kg, up 7c.
In South Australia, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the-hook indicators lifted an average of 10c/kg cwt week-on-week, while light weight and Merino lambs were unchanged. Mutton indicators were up 7c/kg overall, with medium weights averaging 340c/kg cwt.
South Australia’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 580c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 580-620c/kg, up 10c; 24-26kg, 580c/kg, up 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 540c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 320c/kg, up 7c; 18-24kg, 340c/kg, up 7c; 24kg+, 360-380c/kg, up 7c.
The NLRS quoted Tasmania’s over-the-hook rates for sheep and lambs as unchanged this week. Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 530-560c/kg; 16-26kg+, 540-560c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 270-300c/kg; 14-18kg, 280-300c/kg; 18-24kg, 280-310c/kg; 24kg+, 270-290c/kg.
Western Australia’s OTH rates were not available when this article was published.
Dubbo’s trade lambs lift $4
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 13,205 lambs, 922 fewer than two weeks ago, and 6832 sheep, 2477 more.
The NLRS said numbers were well back on the draw with substantial rain in the supply area. Quality slipped as more store lambs came onto the market. Trade and heavy lambs were well-supplied and in good condition, while extra heavy lambs were limited. Most of the usual buyers operated in a firm to slightly dearer market.
Restocker lambs sold from $75-$101. Light 2 score processing lambs were $6 dearer at $75-$106. Medium and heavy trade weights were firm to $4 dearer at $110-$155, averaging around 630c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were firm at $148-$176 and the best of the extra heavy lambs made to $200. Heavy Merino lambs sold to $142 and hogget to $135.
Sheep quality was plain. Heavy sheep did not have the weight of the last sale and there were plenty of light weights, but prices lifted. Medium weights sold from $85-$118 and heavy Merinos made to $158. Crossbred ewes sold to $145. Plain sheep averaged 380c/kg cwt and better covered lines made up to 440c/kg.
Tamworth lambs firm to slightly dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 400 more than two weeks ago, and 400 sheep, 510 fewer.
The NLRS said more than 30 percent of the lambs were light weights that were bought by restockers. There was also a fair supply of well-finished trade and heavy weights. Market trends were firm to slightly dearer, with heavier weights less affected. Restocker activity was boosted by rain and the improving market for the finished product. This resulted in a dearer trend with only weight reduction and lack of condition accounting for any fall in average prices.
Plainer condition lightweight sheep sold firm to cheaper and the well-finished heavy weights were dearer.
Forbes heavy lambs lift $10
In the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,950 lambs, 18,222 fewer than last week, and 2100 sheep, 1138 less.
The NLRS said widespread rain in the drawing area resulted in numbers decreasing significantly. Lamb quality was similar to previous sales, with good numbers of finished lambs and plainer types. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were well supplied. The usual buyers competed in the dearer market.
Light lambs lifted $8 to $112-$124. Trade weights were $5-$10 dearer at $126-$160. A good yarding of heavy and extra heavyweight lambs lifted $10. Heavy lambs sold from $155-$177 and extra heavy lines made $171-$214. Carcase prices averaged 630-655c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $120-$157.
The sheep were mostly Merinos. Quality was mixed and prices were fair. Merino ewes sold from $85-$128. Crossbreds made $78-$144 and Merino wethers sold from $100-$138.
Inverell trade lambs lift $4-$5
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1835 lambs, 285 more, and 876 sheep, 241 more.
The NLRS said the wet conditions were having an effect on overall yardings. Quality was mixed, with some notable drafts of well-finished supplementary-fed lambs for the usual buyers.
The market varied overall, with trade lambs selling $4-$5 dearer, and heavy categories $10 cheaper.
The small yarding of sheep consisted of some well-finished heavy and medium weight sheep, and some light plain drafts. The market changed little week-on-week for most of the sheep sold.
Best Bendigo lambs $3-$6 dearer
In Victoria in the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,710 lambs, 1153 more than two weeks ago, and 4087 sheep, 73 fewer.
The NLRS said general lamb quality improved on a fortnight ago, with some very good domestic and heavy lambs coming in off grain.
The market showed a dearer trend of $3-$6 on the best slaughter lambs of about 20-28kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs over 30kg were often a few dollars easier, while light weight lambs fluctuated to be mostly similar to the last sale.
Bidding reached a top of $207.60 for a pen of extra heavy lambs estimated at 34kg cwt. There were three sales over $200, with most of the heavy lambs over 30kg selling from $180-$195. Carcase results for these extra heavy lambs varied due partially to some smaller pen lots of a few head that sold at lower rates. The bigger lines of heavy export lambs generally ranged from 580-600c/kg.
The strongest demand from buyers was for well-finished fat score 3 and 4 lambs 21-28kg cwt. These lambs sold from $140-$180, or mostly 600-630c/kg, with the pick of the nicely weighted domestic pens making to 650c/kg.
The yarding included a fair percentage of Merino lambs and bidding for these fluctuated depending on carcase finish and weight. The best trade weight Merino lambs sold dearer at $130-$151.60.
Processor demand for mutton remained strong although one export order was absent. Prices were firm to dearer than a fortnight ago. Extra heavy crossbred pens sold from $115-$135, higher per head than a fortnight ago. However, carcase weights were sometimes lower due to the excess weight. Woolly Merino wethers sold to $149.60, with a processor outbidding restockers. The best Merino ewes made $96-$128. On a carcase basis the better quality Merino sheep sold over 400c/kg, but overall mutton mostly made 360-370c/kg when all the lighter and plainer sheep were included.
Ballarat’s best lambs rise $5-$10
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,441 lambs, 8608 fewer than last week, and 4275 sheep, 1421 less, for the usual buyers.
The NLRS said lamb quality was average as the cold and wet weather sets in.
Fewer heavy lambs were yarded, but with keen competition they made to $213. Heavier domestic lambs sold from $144-$180, or around 670c/kg.
Lambs generally sold from unchanged for lighter lambs, to from $5-$10 dearer for well-covered lambs. Heavier Merino lambs made $93-$148. Restockers and feeders were active and paid from $107-$142, or to $70 for lighter lambs. They also paid from $109-$121 for near full wool young Merino wethers. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $70-$108. Lighter trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $108-$144 and averaged around 630c/kg.
Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $132-$155, with the heavier drafts making $144-$180, at 600-725c/kg to average around 670c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $160-$213, with domestic orders looking for better cover purchasing in this category. Heavy hoggets sold from $110-$135.
The sheep included all weights and grades that sold to strong demand, generally firm to $5 up on last week. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $55-$97. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $72-$132, or 300-450c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 440c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $85-$128. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $106 and medium weights made $89-$125, at around 430c/kg. Rams of all weights sold from $50-$141.
Dublin’s heavy crossbred lambs ease $8-$11
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange in Dublin, the agents yarded 10,000 lambs, 3439 more than last week, and 800 sheep, 92 fewer.
The NLRS said the mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to generally easing competition from the usual trade and processor buyers.
There was some feeder buyer interest on light weight, shorn crossbreds from south coast graziers and only limited interest from restockers on Merino lambs. Light weight crossbred lambs sold to feeder buyers for $90-$110. Light weight 3 score lambs bought by processors eased $2 to $110-$115. Light trade weight 4 score crossbreds eased $6 to $122-$128 and averaged 546c/kg cwt. Heavy trade weights eased $8 to $126-$156 and averaged 544c/kg. Heavy weight crossbreds eased $5-$11 to $140-$186, or 547-570c/kg.
Light weight Merino lambs sold to restockers and feeders for $48-$74, and light weights bought by processors were unchanged at $108-$114. Trade weight Merinos remained unchanged at $115-$136 and averaged 510c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $4 to $135-$160, or 537-546c/kg. Hoggets remain in demand, with Merinos making $111-$139.
The mixed quality sheep again sold to animated processor bidding, though light weight 2 score ewes eased a marginal $2 to $88-$112. Heavy weight 3 score ewes lifted $8 to $100-$150, or an average or 429c/kg. Wethers were scarce and the few heavy weights yarded sold from $122-$140, averaging 437c/kg. Heavy weight rams made $118-$136.
Naracoorte lambs sell to $185
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1824 lambs, 480 more than last week, and 1437 sheep, 918 more.
The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers were active on a very mixed quality offering. Restocker orders were active and lambs sold firm.
Lightweight lambs sold to the trade for $103-$117, with light Merinos making $84-$111. Restockers paid $48-$101. Lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $100-$128. Trade weight 3 score lambs made $113-$146, averaging 580c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $145-$168, with the few extra heavy export weight types making $171-$185.
Sheep sold at firm to slightly easier prices. Hoggets mainly sold from $120-$132 and very light ewes made $45-$55. Lightweight 2 score ewes sold from $60-$90 and medium weights made $80-$115 at an average of 410c/kg. Heavy ewes sold from $99-$132 and rams made $92-$100.
Muchea’s heavy lambs sell to $126
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7108 lambs, 108 more than last week, and 7000 sheep, 4300 more.
The NLRS said it was mainly a good quality yarding. Light weight crossbred lambs sold from $55-$95 and Merino lambs made $50-$100. Trade weight lambs sold from $96-$119 and Merino trade weight lambs made $110. Heavy weight lambs sold to a top of $126. Lambs suitable for live export sold for $70-$106. Crossbred lambs sold to feeders made $39-$70. Merino store lambs sold from $50-$72. Lambs suitable for airfreight sold from $70-$106.
Young Merino red tag ewes sold from $102 to processors and up to $85 to restockers. Light ewes sold from $35-$69, boners made $60-$77 and prime score 3 heavy mutton sold from $75-$100.
Young wethers made $54-$112 with processors depending on weight, feeders paid $30-$90 depending on frame and quality, and live exporters paid $80-$120. Older wethers sold for $80-$117 to processors, from $46-$99 to restockers and feeders, and for $85-$110 to live exporters. Ram lambs sold for $89 for live export and for $76-$89 to processors. Older rams made $27-$111 to processors, feeders and restockers.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.
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