QUALITY trade and heavy lamb prices improved in saleyards mid-week as supplies of well-finished lambs continued to tighten and producer confidence in holding lambs lifted after recent rain.
Processors are bidding strongly for any quality lines of trade and heavy lambs yarded, underpinned by strong restocker demand for suitable lines as confidence in the seasonal outlook and market improves, and contracted supplies run out.
Light slaughter lambs, 12.1-18kg cwt and with $4-$6 skins, sold to 731c/kg in Tamworth and to 644c/kg in Dubbo. Selected pens of light-medium trade lambs, 18.1-22kg cwt and with skins worth $2-$8, sold from $112-$128, or 540-585c/kg in Tamworth, and from 463-585c/kg in other New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian saleyards.
Highlights this week included extra heavy lambs selling to $202 in Forbes this week, better prices for quality Merino lambs and improved rates for heavy sheep after recent market discounts. Over-the-hook rates are also starting to move up as processors try to encourage more direct sales.
However, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs – lower for all categories except light and Merino lambs – at least partially reflected the generally lower seasonal quality of yardings.
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the ESDIs for lamb were: restocker 551, down 21c/kg; Merinos 495c/kg, up 9c; light 518c/kg, up 1c; trade 550c/kg, down 5c; heavy 559c/kg, down 2c. The national trade lamb closed down 7 cents to 551c/kg and the heavy indice finished at 560c/kg, down 4 cents.
The ESDI for mutton improved 7 cents to 309 and the national indicator closed up 6 cents to 310c/kg.
Over-the-hook rates rising
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb indicators lifted an average of 10c/kg cwt across most categories this week, although Merino lambs were unchanged. Mutton indicators were slightly higher overall, with medium weights averaging 280c/kg cwt.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 480-540c/kg, up 10 cents; 20-24kg, 500-540c/kg, up 10c; 24-26kg, 500-520c/kg, up 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 410-490c/kg, no change. The NSW mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 220-310c/kg, up 5c; 18-24kg, 260-310c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 270-290c/kg, up 7c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said the light, trade and heavy lamb over-the-hook indicators lifted slightly week-on-week, while extra heavy and Merino lambs were unchanged. Mutton indicators eased on week-ago levels, with medium weight mutton averaging
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 520-540c/kg, up 3c; 24-26kg, 500-520c/kg, up 3-5c; 26kg+, 500c/kg, no change; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, nc. Victoria’s mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 230-290c/kg, down 3c; 18-24kg, 240-300c/kg, down 8c; 24kg+, 210-260c/kg, down 3c.
In South Australia, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb indicators averaged 13c/kg cwt higher for trade and heavy weight categories week-on-week. Medium weight mutton eased slightly, while light and heavy weights were up an average of 5c/kg cwt.
South Australia’s rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 520-540c/kg, up 13-20c/kg; 24-26kg+, 500-520c/kg, up 13c; Merinos 16-24kg, 480-490c/kg, up 3c. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 190-300c/kg, up 5c; 18-24kg, 210-270c/kg, down 5c; 24kg+,
170-280c/kg, up 5c.
In Tasmania, the NLRS said over-the-hook rates were unchanged for lambs and sheep. Tasmania’s rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 465-480c/kg; 16-18kg, 480-500c/kg; 18-26+, 510-520c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-290c/kg; 14-24kg+, 280-290c/kg.
Western Australia’s OTH rates were not available when this report was published.
Dubbo’s trade lambs lift $5
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday the agents yarded 15,665 lambs, 4820 fewer than last week, and 10,075 sheep, 4315 more.
The NLRS said despite the excellent rains of last week there was still a good-sized yarding. It was a mixed yarding with a good selection of heavy weight lambs and only limited numbers of ideal trade weights. Some well-finished Merino lambs were
yarded and good numbers of crossbred and Merino hoggets.
Light weight lambs sold to processors were $6 dearer, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $76-$108. Trade lambs were $5 dearer, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $96-$138, to average 560c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs finished firm to $3 dearer with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $124-$179, to average around 558c/kg. Merino lambs were $1-$3 dearer, with the trade weights selling to $114 and the heavier weights to $136. Crossbred and Merino hoggets sold to $115.
Most grades were represented in the mixed yarding of sheep. Most of the Merino ewes sold $6 dearer and the crossbred ewes were $2-$4 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $20-$69. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds made $55-$94 and woolly Merinos sold to $126. Woolly Merino wethers sold to $115.
Tamworth’s heavy lambs $4 dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 4400 lambs, 2600 more than last week, and 1400 sheep, 500 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the offering was fair to very good and comprised a large selection of lightweight young lambs suitable for restockers. There was a reasonable supply of well-finished trade and heavy weight lambs for butchers and processors.
Demand from restockers was very high, reflecting strong confidence in both seasonal conditions and the market. Restocker lambs of all weights and grades sold to a dearer trend, with the better quality lambs attracting the keenest competition.
Demand for both trade and heavy weight lambs was also higher, with market trends generally firm for trade weights and up to $4 dearer for the heavy and extra heavy weights.
A fair to good quality penning of sheep sold firm to dearer, but the price changes were not significant.
Forbes’s top lambs hit $202
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,820 lambs, 3580 fewer than last week, and 9150 sheep, 700 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed with some good lines of well-finished lambs offered, along with the plainer types. More heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were yarded. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market compared to a fortnight ago.
Light lambs lifted $5 to $98-$106. Trade weights were $6-$10 dearer at $109-$139. The heavy and extra heavyweights had more weight and sold $5-$8 better. Heavy lambs sold from $130-$152 and extra heavies made $148-$202. Carcase prices averaged from 495c-566c/kg.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was very mixed, with more plainer light sheep yarded. Prices lifted, with Merino ewes selling from $72-$116 and crossbred ewes from $70-$110. Dorper ewes sold from $75-$100. Merino wethers made $73-$111.
Bendigo’s slaughter lambs sell $1-$5 dearer
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 12,167 lambs, 4416 more than last week, and 3001 sheep, 1585 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained mixed, with most agents having a small selection of supplementary-fed pens before quality tailed-off into plainer grass-finished types.
Bidding fluctuated, but most of the better quality slaughter lambs sold $1-$5 dearer. Competition was keenest for domestic lambs displaying good carcase finish. Prices reached a top of $178 for heavy export lambs estimated at over 30kg cwt.
About a dozen pens of heavy export lambs over 28kg cwt sold from $160-$178. The lead pens of well-finished shorn lambs weighing 24-27kg mostly sold from $140-$155 and medium trades made $125-$138. On a carcase basis, the better quality slaughter lambs started at about 530c/kg, but mostly ranged from 550-565c/kg for the pick of the trade weight lambs. Select pens of medium domestic lambs made up to 580c/kg.
There was an improved selection of Merino lambs, with lines off grain selling up to $133. It was mainly the secondary lambs, lacking carcass finish and fat cover, which sold below 500c/kg. The main lines of light 12-16kg lambs sold to restockers averaged $9 dearer at $73-$96.
The sheep market was dearer. Heavy ewes, which had been discounted at recent sales, recorded good price gains. Heavy Merino ewes in a high-value skin sold to $100 and heavy crossbred ewes made $97.60. Most of light and trade weight ewes
made from $55-$75, with very light sheep from $32-$50. A price range of 270-310c/kg cwt covered most of the better mutton sales.
Ballarat’s heavy lambs up to $10 dearer
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 31,149 lambs, 5640 more than last week, and 12,902 sheep, 192 more.
The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding for the regular buyers. Competition across all categories was strong and heavy weight lambs were in good supply.
Good numbers of heavy lambs sold to strong competition and made up to $187. Domestic and light lambs also sold to strong competition to be $2-$5 dearer. Heavy lambs were up to $10 dearer than two weeks ago.
Restocker and feeder competition was strong, with most restocker lambs dearer. They mostly sold from $89-$129 and lighter lots made $32-$70. The best of the unshorn young lambs sold from $130-$137. Restockers paid from $57-$65 for young Merino wethers.
Light weight 2 score shorn lambs sold from $76-$91. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $83.60-$115 and averaged around 540c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $113-$128 and heavier drafts made $124-$141, ranging from 520-590c/kg, to average around 550ckg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $135-$173, or around 550c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $162-$187.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades with some quality runs of heavy crossbred ewes. Not all the usual buyers operated, but sheep sold to a dearer trend, mostly $5-$10 up on two weeks ago. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from
$35-$74. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $50 to up to $103 for quality Merino ewes in near-full wool. They ranged from 250-340c/kg, with Merino mutton averaging around 305c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $62-$105 and heavy Merino wethers made $62-$95. Quality Merino hoggets in a big skin made to $120.
Prices lift at Dublin
At the South Australian Livestock Exchnage at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 14,676 lambs, 7383 more than last week, and 3690 sheep, 298 more.
The NLRS said a large field of trade and processor buyers were active, along with a larger number of restocker buyers who bid throughout the sale. With competition on all pens, prices lifted across the board in a pleasing sight for vendors.
Lightweight lambs sold to the trade ranged from $64-$101 and lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $86-$112, a rise of $4-$8. A small number of light weight first cross ewe lambs sold from $64-$84.
Restockers were active and purchased a wide range of lambs starting at $30 for lightweights and up to $105 for light weight trade lambs. Tradeweight 3 score lambs were in demand and made $100-$130 at 520-530c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs also rose and sold mainly from $120-$145, up to $178 for some extra heavy export weight lambs.
Lightweight Merino lambs sold to the trade were plentiful and ranged from $34 for the very light up to $101 for light weight trade 2 and 3 score types. Restockers also bought Merino types for $40-$102. Tradeweight Merino types mainly ranged from
$88-$110 and up to $141 for heavier weights.
Light weight Merino hoggets bought to turn out ranged from $46-$78 and the trade bought lighter weights for $62-$102, while the heavier lines made $101-$134, a rise of $10-$15.
The sheep were mostly Merinos. Light weight 1 and 2 scores ranged from $27-$68 and restocking Merinos made $40-$58. Medium weight types mainly sold from $70-$85 and heavy sheep made to $95. Medium weight wethers ranged from $60-$84 and heavier lines made $86-$114. Rams sold to $70.
Naracoorte lamb prices lift $8-$10
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3673 lambs, 1108 more than last week, and 990 sheep, 1007 fewer.
The NLRS said a small field of processors paid $8-$10 more for the average to good quality 3 and 4 score trade and heavy weight lambs. There was keen restocker competition for the poor to plain selection of light weight 1 and 2 score lambs.
The light weight lambs were mainly 1 scores bought by restockers for $50-$75, while the few pens of 2 scores cost them $62-$95. Light trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold processors made $75-$100 and restockers paid to $102. The 3 score medium-heavy weight trade lambs sold from $96-$130, with seed-free lines making mainly 540-570c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $125-$152, with extra heavy weights making to $162. Most of the better and seed-free heavy weight lambs averaged 555c/kg cwt.
Sheep regained $15-$20 for most weights in a mixed quality offering and the few hoggets sold $5-$10 higher. Heavy weight 3 and 4 score hoggets sold from $90-$102. A run of 2-4 score ewes mainly cost 270-310c/kg, with top sales up around 325c/kg.
Light weight 1 and 2 scores sold from $45-$60 and medium weight 2 and 3 scores made $55-$75. The heavy weight 3 and 4 score ewes sold from $75-$90, with a pen of extra heavy weight 5 score wethers making $96. Heavy weight rams sold from $30-$62.
Muchea’s prime trade lambs lift $4
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 3400 lambs, 3936 fewer than last week, and 4844 sheep, 44 more.
The NLRS said secondary and store lambs dominated the yarding. All usual buyers were active. Prime lambs sold dearer and all other categories were firm to slightly dearer.
Prime trade lambs sold from $95-$120, but the limited numbers were the reason for the $4 price lift to 485c/kg cwt. Plainer trade weight lambs made $80-$104 and averaged closer to 460c/kg. Better light lamb suitable for air freight and restocking orders were $4-$9 dearer at $65-$91. Light and store lambs, including Merino drafts, also lifted, with restockers paying $30-$76, up to $10 dearer.
The ewes offered were of mixed quality and mostly plainer drafts. However, ewe mutton prices lifted overall, with the light and plain conditioned drafts making $20-$56, around $4 dearer. The 2 score medium weight processor mutton made $44-$60, up $3 and close to 250c/kg. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes made $48-$69, to be firm to $6 dearer. Restockers were very active on all lighter conditioned ewes and these were $4-$15 dearer at $20-$64.
There was selective live export interest on wether and ram drafts. Wether prices remained close to firm. Heavy export-ready wethers made $75-$95 and some light wethers sold from $60-$70. Feeders and restockers paid $40-$101 for suitable drafts, with the top-priced wethers having skin values above $15. Ram demand was slightly stronger, with export rams making $55-$82.50.
Ram lambs sold to processors made to $88 and old rams sold from $5-$35.
Northern Tasmanian lambs $10 dearer
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Powranna and Kilfaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1250 lambs, 180 more than last week, and 1200 sheep, 100 fewer.
The NLRS said most lambs are still in the wool and quality was mixed. Most lambs were $5-$8 cheaper, with the exception of light lambs which were up to $10 dearer due to strong restocker and export competition.
Restockers paid $79-$86 for well-bred lambs and exporters paid $70-$80 for light lambs destined for the Middle East. Light trade lambs sold from $80-$90, trade weights made $80-$119 and heavy lambs returned $110-$130.
In the mutton market, most prices were $8-$10 dearer, with strong local and interstate competition. Very light ewes made $24-$34, light weights returned $34-$61, medium ewes sold from $47-$60 and heavy weights made $35-$62. Restockers paid $78 for a run of heavy wethers in full wool.
Sources: AuctionsPlus, MLA, NLRS.