Lamb and mutton prices were pulled back in most saleyards across Australia mid-week as processor buyers sought to temper last week’s price lifts, especially for heavy lambs.
Agents reported that recent price rises brought more stock into saleyards and direct to processors, allowing processors to stand back on the rail at some centres, especially where quality dipped.
However, continued restocker interest kept pressure on exporters and reduce the price drops for light trade, trade and restocker lambs.
Horsham agents offered a good quality yarding of lambs on Wednesday but most still sold $5-$12 easier, consistent with most other centres.
Rodwells Horsham manager Wayne Driscoll said the access to lamb numbers had been greater in the past week.
“It will come again, it is just that no-one likes to see these peaks and troughs like that.
“It is too hard for everyone to operate.”
Last week the market was “over-heated” and “fired a shot of numbers and caused this kick back the other way,” he said.
“So we will have nothing much to sell this week, we will reduce numbers until things can settle.”
He said district producers were not forced to sell at the moment.
NLRS lamb and mutton indicators drop
After Thursday’s sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service reported its Eastern States Daily Indicator for heavy lambs as down 14 cents to 551c/kg cwt and the trade lamb indice fell six cents to 543c/kg cwt. The other ESDIs were restocker lambs, down two cents to 548c/kg, Merinos down nine cents to 495 and light lambs down five cents to 532c/kg. The national heavy lamb indicator also fell 14 cents to 552c/kg and the trade indice was at 544c/kg, down seven cents.
The national and ES daily mutton indicators fell 10 cents to close at 350c/kg and 351c/kg.
Carcoar heavy lambs $14-$18 down
In NSW at the Carcoar’s Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange on Wednesday, the agents yards 7500 lambs, 2000 fewer than last week, and 7300 sheep, 1100 more.
The NLRS said the fair quality yarding had some excellent heavy weight lambs and a reasonable selection of trade weights. Not all the regular buyers operated in the tougher market.
Lightweight lambs were close to firm with 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $59-$96. Trade lambs were $11-$14 cheaper, with 18-22kg cwt 3 score lambs making $92-$120 to average 509c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $14-$18 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 score lambs selling from $112-$179 to average 526c/kg cwt. Restocker lambs were least affected in the tougher market and made to $116. Hoggets sold to $111.
The good quality yarding of mutton had good numbers of well-finished Merino ewes and wethers along with a good line up of crossbreds. Light and medium weight Merino ewes were $2-$3 dearer, while the heavier weight Merinos remained firm. Crossbred ewes were $3 cheaper.
The 2 score Merino ewes sold from $40-$71, while the 3 and 4 score ewes sold from $71-$108 for Merinos and to $115 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $70-$114 to processors. A large line of top quality full wool wethers sold to restockers for $137.
Quality drops lambs prices at Goulburn
At the Goulburn saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2200 lambs, 300 fewer than last week, and 1800 sheep, 700 fewer.
The NLRS said well-finished lambs were scarce, with most lots showing dryness, in the mixed quality offering. Mainly light and trade weights were consigned and the plainer quality allowed restockers to operate across a range of weights.
The lack of quality and the absence of a few usual buyers exaggerated a cheaper trend and most descriptions eased $9-$14. The 12-16kg cwt second cross lambs sold from $76-$95 to restockers, with heavy weights returning to the paddock at $109.50. Light processing lots made $85-$94 while 18-22kg cwt tradeweights ranged from $90-$116. A fair run of heavy lambs made $113-$138 for most of the slaughter lots, to average 470c/kg-520c/kg cwt.
It was generally fair to good quality sheep offering. Demand for mutton also weakened and prices were mostly $5-$10 cheaper. Light 2 score ewes made $28-$51, while medium and heavy weights mostly $45-$100. One small lot of extra heavy crossbred ewes reached $130. Heavy Merino wethers topped at $106 for most of the better covered mutton to average 280ccx/kg-350c/kg cwt.
Less export competition at Wagga Wagga
At the Wagga Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 25,000 lambs, 10,000 fewer than last week, and 11,000 sheep, 4500 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was fair with many showing the effects of the hot conditions. Trade lambs were in shorter supply, with more showing dryness in the skin. Heavy and extra lambs were well-supplied. However, export processor competition waned considerably. Plainer shorn lambs lacking finish were keenly sought by lot feeders, but prices were significantly cheaper. The usual domestic and export buyers competed in a cheaper market.
Well-finished heavy trade lambs sold to weaker demand, with not all processors operating fully. The bulk of the heavy trade lambs averaged 519c/kg cwt, reaching a top price of $136. Trade lambs 20-22kg cwt were in shorter supply and keenly sought by lot feeders. Lambs to slaughter averaged $118.60.
There was limited numbers of trade Merino lambs, which sold to a smaller contingent of buyers for $94-$107. Heavy Merino lambs made from $130-$148. Well-bred secondary lambs returning to the paddock were in limited numbers and sold from $72-$111.
Heavy export lambs were well-supplied and once again there were plenty of lambs weighing above 30kg cwt. Heavy lambs made from $134-$151 to average 542c/kg cwt. The bulk of the extra heavy lambs sold from $144-$190, averaging 515c/kg cwt.
Mutton quality was quite mixed, with all weights and grades represented. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were well-supplied and prices eased $4-$5 to average 345c/kg cwt. Heavy ewe mutton sold to solid demand with most buyers keen to capture adequate supplies. Heavy sheep made from $86-$128 averaging 362c/kg-392c/kg cwt. Merino wethers were in limited numbers and processors paid from $84-$115.
Trade and heavy lamb prices drop at Hamilton
In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards, the agents yarded 12,346 lambs, 3554 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said the mixed quality lamb yarding comprised mostly tradeweights, with a good number of light lambs and only a few pens of heavy weights. The usual buyers were present, but three buyers did not operate fully and consequently there was less competition.
Restockers from South Australia and some local store buyers helped to keep light weight 2 score lambs equal to last week’s rates, from $61-$106. The trade weight 3 score lambs were $5 cheaper, with the 18-22kg cwt range selling from $103-$127 to average at 560c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs were $8-$10 cheaper, with the over 22kg cwt 4 scores selling from $124-$147.
Lambs $5-$12 easier at Horsham
In the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7690 lambs, 5235 fewer than last week, and 4131 sheep, 353 more.
The NLRS said quality was good over the smaller yarding of trade and heavy weight lambs offered. The usual buyers attended but competition was not as strong as the high levels of previous weeks. Lambs generally sold $5-$12 easier on last week and more in places. Restockers were active and paid from $89.50-$126.50 for lambs, while the lighter lots sold from $35-$60. Heavy hoggets sold from $78-$115, and quality Merino lambs made $95-$131.
Sheep numbers lifted a little across all weights and grades and, although quality was not as good, medium weight sheep sold at similar levels. The light and heavy lines sold up to $10 easier on last week. Light 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $52-$98. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $94-$122. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $117-$149 and ranged from 500c/kg-590c/kg cwt, averaging around 550c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $137-$160.50, to average around 540c/kg cwt. Extra heavy lambs sold to $168.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $50-$85. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $68-$100 and ranged from 310c/kg-400c/kg cwt, to average around 360c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $84-$120. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $103 and medium weights made from $81-$110, to range around 380c/kg-390c/kg cwt.
Less demand for Hamilton sheep
In the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 15,753 sheep, 128 more than last week.
The NLRS said the yarding consisted of very good quality lines of Merino wethers and crossbred ewes, with less lighter sheep. Other than one heavy sheep buyer who showed no interest, most of the processors operated throughout the market. Some local restockers attended and managed to secure a number of lines.
Prices overall were cheaper in all grades, with light weight sheep back $5, medium trade $8 easier and the heavy lines selling $10-$12 lower. Light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $37-$82. Medium weight 2 and 3 score Merino ewes sold from $72-$92 and the crossbred ewes made $75-$90, or from 330c/kg-380c/kg cwt, to average 350c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $82-$105 and heavy Merino wethers 3 and 4 score made $88-$118 at an estimated 370c/kg cwt. Best rams sold from $57-$70.
Ouyen lambs $10 cheaper
At the Ouyen Livestock Exchange on Thursday, the agents yarded 11,500 lambs and 3800 sheep.
OLE superintendent Kate Pohlner said lambs sold to weaker competition, following the market trend and due to the absence of one major export buyer. Prices for all weights and grades were $10 cheaper than last sale.
Export lambs sold from $120-$170.60, or 490c/kg-520c/kg cwt, tradeweights made $101-$130, or 550c/kg-560c/kg cwt and store lamb buyers paid $70-$100, or 560c/kg-570c/kg cwt.
Sheep sold firm to $5 cheaper, with light mutton making $52-$88.60, or 360c/kg-390c/kg cwt, and the heavy lines ranged from $95-$124.60, or 350c/kg-370c/kg cwt.
Less competition on Mt Gambier’s heavier lambs
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 4178 lambs, 479 fewer than last week, and 350 sheep, 137 less.
The NLRS said a smaller field of trade and processor buyers was present along with a number of restocker orders. Prices for lambs fluctuated with the lighter weight selection receiving help from restocker competition to remain firm.
The heavier end of the lamb market suffered from the lack of competition and prices fell an average of $8-$10, and more in places. Light weight lamb prices ranged from $60-$97 and the trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $98-$116. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged in price from $106-$127 at an average of 550c/kg cwt. Restockers paid from $94-$116.
Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $120-$155 at an average of 540c/kg cwt. The few heavy export weight lambs ranged from $152-$158. Hoggets ranged from $74-$100 and lightweight ewes sold up to $46. Medium weight ewes ranged from $76-$105 at an average of 340c/kg cwt. The few heavyweight ewes sold to $118. Rams made to $20/head
Katanning lambs firm to dearer despite quality
In WA on Wednesday at the Katanning saleyards, the agents yarded 6775 lambs, 18 fewer than last week, and 8000 sheep, 3000 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the yarding was very plain with limited numbers of prime lambs or heavy weight ewes. Merino lamb numbers were solid but most were very light condition young drafts. Lambs suitable for air freight processors and feeders were well-supplied and demand was very strong. All buyers were present but they were more selective.
Prices for prime lambs were firm to $5 dearer and light lambs sold for $3-$8 more than last week. Very light store lambs, mostly Merino drafts, made $30-$65, with immature drafts as low as $10. Light lambs to air freight processors and feeders made $65-$99. Better-framed drafts to feed on averaged close to $90 to be $8 dearer. Trade lambs sold from $80-$120 and were firm to $5 dearer, averaging close to 510c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs made $120-$130 to be firm to $5 dearer.
Ewe prices eased $5 for the light weight categories and other categories remained firm. Prices were mixed, with the light and lighter conditioned drafts easing around $6 and selling from $30-$58. The 2 score mutton to processors made $40-$80 to average 278c/kg cwt, equal to last week. Ewes in 3 score condition, including heavy weight drafts, made $60-$80 and were firm at 280c/kg cwt. Restockers were active on suitable light conditioned and longer wool drafts which included ewe hoggets from $40-$88. Ram prices remained similar, with ram lambs selling to $90 and young drafts to live export and export feeders making $30-$76. Old rams to processors made $10-$55.
Source: MLA, NLRS