MUTTON sheep prices generally improved across Australia yesterday, in the first saleyard sales since the Easter break.
Although sheep prices were lower at the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the National Livestock Reporting Service reported keen demand for mutton sheep at Naracoorte, in NSW sales and in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.
At Ballarat, heavy sheep prices lifted $10-$20. Medium weight sheep sold $3-$7 dearer and light mutton prices were $2-$5 higher. Heavy crossbred and Merino sheep averaged 430-460c/kg. Mutton prices also regained last week’s losses in Tasmanian and Western Australia sales.
However, prices for light, trade and heavy lambs sold to processors were generally firm to flatter as producers struggle to present lines of good quality for buyers in the difficult season. At Dublin in South Australia, heavier young lambs sold slightly cheaper at $148-$170 and heavy weight old lambs made $134-$185, down $15-$25.
Ballarat again bucked the trend with a better quality lamb offering, with heavy lambs averaging firm to $3 dearer, and medium and light trade weight lambs selling firm to a few dollars stronger, generally averaging 600-610c/kg-plus cwt.
Although restockers in some areas were constrained by the offerings and the seasonal conditions, the Eastern States Daily Indicator for restocker lambs closed on Tuesday at 659c/kg, up 29 cents on last week. The Merino lamb indicator of 606c/kg was also higher, up 24 cents.
The light lamb indicator was 3 cents down on last week at 613c/kg, the trade lamb indicator lost 2 cents to 6123c/kg and the heavy lamb indice was 7 cents down at 612c/kg. The mutton indicator rose 13 cents above last week to close at 453c/kg.
In New South Wales at the Forbes yesterday, the agents yarded 28,050 lambs, 2850 more than last week, and 11,290 sheep, 3840 more.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said lamb quality reduced slightly with more secondary lambs penned. The usual buyers competed in a firm to easier market.
Light lambs sold from $115-$122. Restockers were strong, paying up to $139 for the well-bred store types. Trade weight lambs were firm to $3 easier at $120-$148.
Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs also sold firm to $3 easier. Heavy lambs made $143-$165. Extra heavy weights sold from $152-$215. Carcase prices averaged 602-633c/kg.
Mutton sheep quality was very mixed and prices continued to fluctuate. Merino ewes sold from $97-$154. Crossbreds made $96-$174. Dorper ewes sold from $82-$130. Merino wethers made $95-$149.
At the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3900 lambs, 100 fewer than two weeks ago, and 997 sheep, 203 less.
The NLRS said the supply of heavy lambs was limited and apart from pens which had been supplemented on grain, many of the trade and lighter lambs lacked carcase finish due to the dry season.
The usual buyers competed and price trends were firm to dearer, compared to a fortnight ago. Lambs under 22kg cwt recorded the best price improvements. Agents passed in some pens of Merino lambs.
Lambs sold to $190, with most of the lead drafts of heavy and medium trade weight lambs making $144-$168. Lighter domestic lambs mostly sold from $127-$143 and small lambs made $96-$118 with processors.
On a carcase basis, the heaviest lambs started at about 580c/kg, however; once onto the trade and lightweight lines rates improved to 600-660c/kg, depending on quality and finish. Buyers appeared to favour recently shorn lambs in short skins over the drier longer wool types.
Demand for mutton remained keen, despite the small yarding. Heavy Merino ewes in a good skin sold to $170. Estimated carcase prices for the main grades of mutton all improved on a fortnight ago.
In Victoria at the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 21,750 lambs, 544 fewer than last week, and 9182 sheep, 2667 more.
The NLRS said most the usual buyers operated on the generally good to very good quality yarding, which included excellent well-finished heavy and medium weight lambs and pens of secondary lambs. The quality was credit to producers considering the tough dry conditions.
Competition varied around quality, with heavy lambs averaging firm to $3 dearer, and medium and light trade weight lambs selling firm to a few dollars stronger. However, some plainer lambs were slightly easier and a restocker from South Australia provided extra competition, lifting store lamb prices in places.
Restockers and feeders paid mostly $90-$136 for store lambs with frame and the limited selection of heavy to medium trade weight unshorn lambs sold from $100-$145. Light weight 2 score lambs made $56-$108 and light trade weights sold from $82-$124, averaging 600c/kg.
Medium 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $116-$145, slightly fluctuating on quality to average an estimated 615c/kg. Heavy trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $141-$159 and heavy 25-26kgcwt lambs made $155-$170, or 610-615c/kg. Heavier 3 and 4 score lambs and the extra heavy export 4 scores sold from $168-$230, averaging an estimated 600c/kg. Heavy hoggets made $128-$145.
It was a very mixed sheep offering, with most weights and grades offered. Demand was stronger and heavy sheep prices lifted $10-$20. Medium weight sheep sold $3-$7 dearer and light mutton prices were $2-$5 higher. A local restocker purchased first cross ewes from $110 and $120.
Very light weight 1 score sheep sold from $24-$64 and light weight 1 and 2 scores made $50-$100, averaging 360-400c/kg.
Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $82-$136 and Merino ewe mutton averaged 460c/kg. Crossbred ewe mutton averaged 433c/kg. Heavy cross bred ewes sold from $110-$174, or an average of 435c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes made $118-$130.
Medium weight Merino wethers sold from $106-$138, heavy 3 and 4 score lines made $150-$162, or an average estimated 470c/kg. Heavy crossbred wethers made $124-$184. The best rams of all breeds sold from $45-$89.
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin yesterday, the agents yarded 6000 lambs, 3000 fewer than last week, and 2000 sheep.
The NLRS said one processor buyer was absent and competition was substantially subdued for an otherwise full field of trade and restocker buyers.
More well-finished heavy weight older lambs were offered, but prices for these eased $10-$25.
Trade weight lambs were not as well-represented in the limited offering and quality ranged from very good to only fair. Light crossbred and Merino young lambs were well-represented and these were least affected with prices easing from $5-$8.
Medium weight young lambs made from $110-$148, with most sales firm. Heavier young lambs sold slightly cheaper at $148-$170. Heavy weight lambs made $134-$185, down $15-$25. Light older lambs traded generally firm at $38-$122. Medium weights sold from $95-$142 and trade weights made $114-$160, back $8-$10. The few hoggets offered sold from $114-$142.
Light ewes sold mostly $2-$5 cheaper, from $40 up to $144 for six-tooth ewes in full wool bought by a restocker. Heavy ewes were back by $5-$8 at $65 to a top of $142 for a line bought by a restocker. The few wethers offered were $8-$10 easier at $70-$142 to restockers. Rams generally sold from $54-$114.
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3119 lambs, 1332 more than last week, and 840 sheep, 133 more.
The NLRS said more trade and processor buyers, and restocker orders, provided increased competition for the mixed yarding. A large range of lamb types and qualities was offered and prices improved.
Light weight lambs sold to the trade for $65-$124, with the light weight trade 2 and 3 score types making $105-$128. Restockers paid $27-$65 for Merino lambs and $46-$128 for crossbreds.
Trade weight 3 score lambs made $123-$144, or 600-630c/kg. Heavy lambs were well-supplied and sold from $140-$171. Extra heavy export weight lambs lifted $4-$7 to $168-$200.
Sheep met strong competition with the return of an extra trade buyer. Hoggets ranged from $110-$133 and light weight ewes sold from $33-$54. Medium weight types made $85-$110, to average 410c/kg. Heavy ewes lifted up to $8 to $110-$137. Rams made $30-$66.
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,000 lambs, 6400 more than last week, and 2376 sheep, 6936 fewer.
The NLRS said air freight lambs sold $3 dearer at $75-$115 and heavy lambs lifted $5. However, the very light store Merino lambs eased $10-$20 with reduced competition due to seasonal conditions. Very light crossbred lamb sold firm to feeders for $26-$62.
The 18-19kg store lambs sold $5 dearer to lot feeders at $115-$126. Trade lambs sold firm at $115-$149 and heavy weights made $144-$155, $5 dearer. Light ram lambs sold to feeders for $40-$70. Heavy weights sold firm to the trade from $120-$154. Light hoggets sold to feeders for $30-$88 and made to $100 with the trade.
Very light store Merino wether lambs sold from $30-$46, down $10. Light weights made $87-$125, down $5, and medium weights sold firm at $120-$125. Very light store Merino ewe lambs made from $18-$37, down $10. Mediums weights sold from $50-$88, down $25.
Mutton prices regained the $5-$10 lost last week. Mutton light boner ewes made $52-$83. Medium score 2 and trade ewes sold from $80-$125. Heavy ewes lifted $-$10 to $109-$139, with the tops carrying 75mm fleeces. The best heavy wethers sold firm at $111-$130 for live export, with the top lines also carrying 75mm fleeces. Mature rams sold firm to live export buyers for $50-$92 and processors paid $10 less for their drafts at $20-$53.
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Powranna and Killafaddy yesterday, the agents yarded 450 lambs, 100 more than last week, and 1150 sheep, 450 more.
The NLRS said there were few heavy lambs offered in a generally firm market that was easier at times.
Restockers paid $70-$75 for light lambs and feeders paid $113-$132 for trade and heavy trade lambs. The trade paid $120-$132 for trade lambs, $130-$146 for heavy lines and $139-$160 for the few extra heavy pens.
The better selection of mutton included a few big lines of ewes. Light sheep recovered last week’s loss, while medium and heavy lines averages were slightly cheaper. Light ewes made from $66 up to $108 for those with a full fleece. Medium weight sheep made $76-$108 and heavy crossbred ewes sold from $90-$111.