Prime & Store Sheep Reports

Lamb and mutton prices lift with reduced supply and rain

Sheep Central January 29, 2021

Narrawa producer Daniel Selmes, left, had a good day at the office at Yass this week, with Jock Duncombe of Duncombe & Co selling his 20 crossbreds for the top price of $256. Daniel also sold 87 lambs for $251 and another line of 133 for $242.

LAMB prices in all categories and mutton values finished higher in saleyards this week as quality supplies were limited by the Australia Day holiday, smaller offerings in major centres and the prospect of rain on the east coast.

With the Australia Day public holiday taking Ballarat out of the supply chain on Tuesday and new heat rules at Bendigo on Monday, domestic and export buyers needing lambs were forced to work harder at remaining saleyard centres, especially with many yards offering smaller or unchanged lamb yardings.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s Livestock Market Reporting Service today reported all Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb and mutton as increasing after Thursday’s sales, especially for trade lambs, which lifted 30 cents to 849c/kg.

The other indicators and their changes included: restocker lambs up 16 cents to 948c/kg; heavy lambs up 16 cents to 840c//kg; Merino lambs up 12 cents to 757c/kg and light lambs up 8 cents to 875c/kg. The ESDI for mutton rose 24 cents to 609c/kg.

In some centres early in the week, trade lamb prices were weaker to $5-$10 dearer, and prices for heavy lambs were also cheaper at some centres. But by Wagga Wagga’s sale on Thursday, and with supermarket Woolworths dominating bidding, the NLRS reported that most trade lambs gained $10-$26 and the 22-24kg lines sold from $200-$230. Although one exporter did not operate, heavy lambs lifted $14 to average 881c/kg cwt and extra heavy lamb prices rose $13-$14 to average 743c/kg cwt for those over 30kg cwt.

Rodwells agent at Wagga Wagga Ryan Schiller said today the rain in the area has been patchy from falls of 20mm to up to 100mm further north, but more falls were expected.

He said the Wagga market was solid this week for trade and heavy lambs, but the rain started after the lamb sale and wasn’t a big factor. The prices rises were related to quality and supply, Mr Schiller said.

“We had a very good quality yarding of lambs here yesterday and I just think they are just struggling for numbers overall.

“If you take Ballarat and us out of the picture there are not too many other places yarding much over 10,000-15,000,” he said.

Wagga agents yarded 27,300 lambs on Thursday, 7700 fewer, and yardings dropped at Bendigo, Hamilton, Horsham, Cowra and Yass.

In an indication of the impact of the recent rain across south-eastern New South Wales, the NLRS said significant rainfall across the Griffith saleyard supply area resulted in a very small yarding of 2000 lambs today, 5491 fewer than last week.

Bendigo trade lambs $5-$10 dearer, heavyweights $5-$20 cheaper

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 8700 lambs, 11,300 fewer than last week, and 1800 sheep, 5200 less.

The NLRS said with lamb numbers capped under new heat rules, the sale started earlier and was finished by 10am.

A good run of heavy lambs showing plenty of weight, but there was again a very limited supply of nicely finished domestic types. The market fluctuated like last week, and demand was difficult to read due to Tuesday’s Australia Day public holiday and the hot conditions.

Some regular buyers didn’t attend and other processors were quieter than normal. Price trends averaged $5 cheaper on heavy lambs weighing above 28kg, with some individual pens down $20 or more compared to last Monday.

Trade weight lambs in the 20-24kg range sold $5-$10 dearer and on plain quality at times. Prices reached $273 for big export lambs around 38kg and only three pens made above $265. Most lambs over 30kg sold from $236-$255, or from 710-780c/kg for an estimated average of 750c/kg cwt. The market trended over 800c/kg for the more nicely weighted lambs under 28kg.

Any fresh trade weight lambs made $185-$215, or from 820c/kg to nearly 900c/kg, with a mixed run of these lambs estimated as costing processors 830-850c/kg. Decent light lambs made $130-$165, with only a few local restocking orders active.

The tone for sheep was cheaper on a limited yarding. Heavy crossbred ewes made from $170-$210, while better framed and presented Merino ewes made $164-$195. Plain and light sheep sold from $90-$130. Good runs of mutton were estimated at 530-580c/kg.

Dubbo competition softer

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 5700 lambs, 250 more, and 3700 sheep.

The NLRS said lamb quality was good in the well-finished trade and heavy weights, but tended to be mixed in the rest.

Mainly trade and heavy weight lambs were penned along with a limited number of light and store grades. All the usual buyers operated, but competition was softer, resulting in an easing of the market after last week’s dearer levels.

Light lambs sold to processors averaged around $148 and store lambs made $152-$163. Medium and heavy trade weight lambs were $6 cheaper at 790-820c/kg. Most of the heavy trade weight lambs 22-24 kg sold from $182-$200.

Heavy weight lambs were $6-$9 cheaper and averaged 760-790c/kg. Heavy weight lambs sold from $195-$209 and the extra heavy weights made $210-$254.

Mutton quality was generally good, with prices firm to a little dearer in places. Medium Merino ewes sold from $143-$180, or 640c/kg. Heavy first cross ewes sold from $175-$210, or 615-650c/kg. Heavy Merino wethers made $185-$205, or 630-640c/kg.

Tamworth market cheaper

In NSW at the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3000 lambs, 1500 more than last week, and 500 sheep.

The NLRS said there was a good selection of well-finished heavy and extra heavy weight lambs penned along with a good supply of light weight young lambs. The quality of the lamb offering was generally good with a large variation in weights. The usual processors attended and there was solid restocker competition.

Light weight young lambs suitable for restockers met varied demand. Competition increased for the lighter weights, as purchasers attempted to restrict outlay. Young ewe lambs attracted keen restocker competition also.

There was weaker demand from processors as we head into some hot weather. Market trends were cheaper throughout. The extra heavy weights and secondary quality lambs were most affected.

The medium weight trade and the lighter end of the heavy weights destined for the domestic market experienced moderate price falls. Restockers were active on suitable ewe lines in the sheep market with some very good quality Merino’s and Dorpers penned. The low numbers available-processors met with reduced demand-show a much cheaper market trend with some quality related price change.

Hamilton lambs drop $5-$10

In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 13.925 lambs, 5674 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said the lambs ranged from very plain to excellent in quality, with a similar weight range to the last sale. Nearly 70 percent of the offering is now shorn and the quality is gradually gaining momentum. The shorn lambs above 22kg showing the best quality and there was a limited number of quality woolly lambs.

At least 50pc of the offering was purchased by feeder or store buyers. There was a full contingent of processors, restockers and feeder buyers, but not all were fully active, especially the trade operators. Restocking competition came from Shepparton, Finley, south-east South Australia and local areas.

The market was very erratic in places, but overall was back by $5-$10 per head in most categories.

Light 12-18kg lambs made from $96-$165, averaging 850-1050c/kg. The light trade weight lambs 18-22kg sold from $149-$172, to average 800-850c/kg. The medium trade weight lambs 22-25kg made from $170-$229, to average 810-840c/kg. Heavy trade weight lambs 26-30kg and over made up to $243, to average 780-810c/kg. The best woolly lamb made to $243 and the shorn lambs sold to $239.

Horsham heavy lambs lift $5

In Victoria at the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6988 lambs, 2227 fewer than last week, and 1497 sheep, 498 less.

The NLRS said quality was again very good, with plenty of well-finished heavy lambs available and a few more trade weighted lambs.

The regular buyers and some returning competition operated in a strong market on the heavier lambs, with most lambs generally selling up to $5 dearer than last week. Trade weight lambs sold from $189-$231, to average 860c/kg. Heavy weights sold to 275. Unshorn lambs reached $235, and the better Merino lambs sold from $163-$185. Restockers and feeders paid from $117-$164.

Light weight lambs 12-18 kg sold from $106-$162. Light trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs 18-22/kg, sold from $166-$192 and averaged 830c/kg. Medium trade weight lambs 22-24 kg sold from $189-$215 and made 820-900c/kg to average 860c/kg. Heavy trade weight lambs sold from $212-$231 and averaged 860c/kg.

Export weight lambs sold from $224-$255 and averaged 820c/kg. Extra heavy weight lambs sold from $237-$275. The few trade and heavy weight unshorn lambs made from $211-$235 and averaged from 825-840c/kg. Merino lambs over 20kg sold from $179-$185 and averaged 795c/kg.

Sheep quality was mixed, with some good runs of heavy sheep. Competition was limited, with sheep generally selling a few dollars easier on last week. Heavy Merino ewes, near full wool reached $226, Merino wethers sold to $231 and crossbred ewes made to $190. Merino hoggets sold to $145 and the crossbreds made to $167. Light weight 2 score sheep sold from $70-$92 and averaged 450c/kg. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $100-$145 and ranged from 480-605c/kg. Merino mutton averaged 580c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $140-$226, heavy Merino wethers made to $231 and heavy Merino sheep ranged from 600-660c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score crossbred sheep sold from $100-$190 and averaged 490c/kg. Rams made $65-$149.

Cowra’s trade and heavy lambs lift $5

In NSW at the Cowra saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2570 lambs, 1330 fewer than last week, and 180 sheep, 470 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was very good in the trade and heavy weights. Most of the yarding was heavy lambs and there were limited supplies of light and trade lambs.

The usual buyers operated and competition was solid, resulting in a dearer market on the back of last week’s stronger levels. Medium and heavy trade weight lambs were $5 dearer and averaged 840-850c/kg. The heavy trade weight 22-24kg sold from $201-$207.

Heavy weight lambs sold $3-$5 dearer and averaged 760-815c/kg. Heavy weight lambs sold from $206-$210 and the extra heavy weights made $213-$260.

Mutton quality was good. Medium Merino ewes sold from $138-$158 or 600c/kg. Heavy first cross ewes made $160-$180 or 600c/kg.

Yass heavy lambs lift up to $10

At Yass’ South Eastern Livestock Exchange on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7175 lambs, 1457 fewer than last week, and the agents yarded 3825 sheep, 405 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality improved in the new season tradeweight lines and there was an excellent supply of heavy shorn lambs, creating strong competition between domestic and export processors.

All the regular buyers operated in a firm to dearer market. Restockers were active again on the large supply of store lambs.

Domestic processors paid $166-$210 or $9 more for the better quality new season lambs. Shorn medium and heavy trade weights jumped $8 in places to $174-$212, to average 837c/kg. Strong competition resulted in heavy lambs gaining $10 to make $200-$223. Heavy export lambs sold from $215-$250, to average 786c/kg.

Another large supply of store lambs was penned and restockers paid from $115-$159 for light lambs and up $195 for medium weights. Lambs going to feeders made $145-$172.

Crossbred hoggets sold to $228 and Merino made to $208. Mutton sold to weaker trends, with heavy crossbred ewes making $153-$208, down $10. Heavy Merino ewes sold to $211. Medium weight sheep sold from $108-$151.

Category prices:  Crossbred suckers-$224, average $181.70; Merino lambs-$161, av $122.81; crossbred old lambs-$256, av $199.78; crossbred hoggets-$228, av $197.36; Merino wethers-$210, av $170.18; crossbred ewes-$222.20, av $188.99; Merino ewes-$194, av $157.17.

Best Mt Gambier trade lambs lift $5-$10

In South Australia at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 3785 lambs, 10 more than last week, and 253 sheep, 137 fewer.

The NLRS said the lambs sold to the usual trade and processor buyers and to restockers. Quality was generally good and the offering sold at dearer rates.

Light lambs sold to the trade for $68-$150, with the light weight trade 2 and 3 score lines making $156-$163. Restockers paid $110-$160.

Trade weight 3 score lambs made $157-$194, with most sales ranging from 800-850c/kg, up $5-$10. Heavy lambs made $188-$218 and the extra heavy pens sold from $220-$271.

Hoggets sold from $100-$180. The lighter ewes made $80-$130 and the heavier types sold from $155-$179.

Katanning’s light lambs were in demand

In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6087 lambs, 1461 fewer than last week, and 6500 sheep, 8500 less.

The NLRS said light weight lambs were again in demand from live export, grazier and feeder buyers. Very light weight lambs sold from $41-$90 with less paid for very light and store condition lines.

Air freight weight lambs under 16kg sold from $102-$115 to live exporters and the feeders and restockers paid $70-$120. Heavier under 18kg lambs made $120-$137 to processors and live exporters paid $125-$142. Feeders and restockers paid $120-$139.

Trade weight lambs sold from $147-$165 to processors and the live exporters and feeders paid $149-$160. A quality run of heavy lambs sold from $167-$208.

Ewe mutton sold to $209, while lighter weights were keenly sought by restockers. Heavy wethers sold to $216. Young Merino ewes sold to processors for $94-$173 and restockers paid $72-$109 in the better quality yarding.

Heavy ewes over 30kg gained $12 to $186-$209 and the lighter 24-30kg lines sold from $135 up to $180 for those with a fleece. Medium weight and good boning ewes weighing under 24kg sold for $95-$161 and light weight ewes sold to processors for from $75 for very small poor conditioned ewes and up to $121 for better lines. Heavy mature wethers sold from $205-$216 and lighter weights made $119-$180. Young heavy hogget wethers made $170-$199 and lighter categories sold from $70-$152. Young rams sold to processors for $85-$130. The mature and store rams made $10-$40. Heavy ram lambs sold from $113-$167.

Trade lambs lift $10-$26 and heavyweights rise $14 at Wagga

In NSW at the Wagga Wagga saleyards, the agents yarded 27,300 lambs, 7700 fewer than last weeki, and 5950 sheep, 4550 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality improved in trade and heavy lamb categories, with most lambs shorn and grain assisted. Heavy and extra heavy lamb numbers lifted, with a big percentage weighing more than 30kg carcase weight.

The shorn trade lambs presented extremely well, with most having very short skins. A full field of buyers attended; however, not all major export companies operated fully. In the trade market a single major domestic processor dominated the market for lambs weighing 22-24kg and other processors struggled to equal the prices set.

Most of the trade lambs gained $10-$26. Lambs 22-24kg sold from $200-$230. Merino trade lambs sold to a small group of buyers. All categories met stronger competition to average from 765-795c/kg. Young lambs sold to restockers made $128-$174.

A full field of export buyers attended; however, one buyer didn’t operate. Heavy lambs lifted $14 to average 881c/kg. Extra heavy lambs were keenly sought after and improved by $13-$14 to average 743c/kg for the over 30kg lines. A single pen of lambs weighing 39kg made $284.20.

It was another mixed quality yarding of mutton with fewer heavy sheep. Heavy ewes sold to strong demand, lifting $11-$18 to average 507c/kg. Heavy wethers averaged 607c/kg. There was a limited number of trade sheep and they averaged 607c/kg.

Hamilton sheep lift $15-$20

In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 8200 sheep, 2230 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said it was a very good offering of better quality sheep, with all weights and grades were available. All the regular buyers were fully active and two additional processors attended.

The very strong sale was $15-$20 dearer, and more so for the light to medium weight sheep. Heavy sheep over 30kg sold firm. Light weight 2 score sheep sold from $81-$127, to average 600-650c/kg. Medium weight 3 scores made $117-$165, averaging 580-630/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $168-$175 and heavy Merino wethers made $180-$202. Heavy crossbred ewes sold to $229 to average 550c/kg. The general cost of mutton was estimated at around 610c/kg. Hoggets sold to $198. Terminal ram sires sold to $76 and Merino rams made to $94.

Rain cuts Griffith lamb and sheep yarding

IN NSW at the Griffith saleyards today, the agents yarded 2000 lambs, 5491 fewer, and 350 sheep, 1150 less.

The NLRS said significant rainfall across the supply area resulted in a very small yarding made up predominantly of heavy weight lambs. Lamb quality was very good with prices jumping $10-$14 in places. A small buying group attended and not all were fully active.

A very small offering of trade lambs was available for processors, and the medium and heavy weights lifted $11-$14 to $184-$199, to average 843c/kg. Heavy lambs were better supplied and made $214-$224. The quality in the extra heavy lambs remained excellent and they sold $7 dearer at $220-$252, with the over 30kg lambs making to $283. Heavy Merino lambs sold to $201.

Most of the mutton sheep were heavy weights. The market was firm, with heavy Merino ewes selling from $161-$212 and heavy cross bred ewes reaching $235.

Source: MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. William Michael, January 30, 2021

    With all this gravy about maybe we should have shares in Gravox and get out of the sheep business or do we just use Paul Kelly’s recipe?

  2. Donald Cameron, January 29, 2021

    Mutton is simply meat older than lamb.
    For decades it was sold for a fraction of lamb, this I could never understand.
    For decades also the well fed-MLA snouts ignored the issue of mutton being valued at a small fraction of lamb.
    The market finally moved independently of MLA. And no thanks to those on board the MLA gravy train…

Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -