Lamb prices and grid rates fall and buyers step back as numbers lift

Sheep Central October 12, 2016
These 11-12 month-old early July shorn Merino lambs, 20.7kg cwt and score 2, sold for $102.50 at Wilcannia, NSW, on AuctionsPlus this week.

These 11-12 month-old early July shorn Merino lambs, 20.7kg cwt and score 2, sold for $102.50 at Wilcannia, NSW, on AuctionsPlus this week.

BUYERS began to set the scene for the weather-delayed spring lamb turn-off early this week as saleyard prices began to crash under the weight of increased supplies.

New South Wales centres holding their first sales in two weeks played catch-up on prices, influenced by weaker demand from buyers facing increased numbers, with trade lambs selling $5-$13 cheaper.

Despite the subdued processor and trade buying on light, trade and heavy slaughter lambs, restocker competition remained strong albeit at lower prices.

According to the National Livestock Reporting Service, over Monday and Tuesday, the lamb categories lost between 21-33c/kg cwt, with the biggest falls recorded by light lambs (down 33c) and Merinos (down 29c). The trade and heavy lamb indicator categories both lost 21 cents, and the eastern states restocker lamb indicator fell 23 cents over the two days.

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb were: restocker 604c/kg, down 9c; Merino 528c/kg, down 1c; light 579c/kg, down 17c; trade 578c/kg, down 12c; heavy 570c/kg, down 11c. The national trade lamb indicator closed down 1`4 cents to 577c/kg and the heavy lamb indice moved 12 cents lower on 569c/kg.

The ESDI for mutton finished 8 cents lower on 422c/kg and the national mutton indicator was 17 cents lower on 401c/kg.

Over-the-hook rates starting to fall

In New South Wales, the NLRS said over-the-hook 2-4 score lamb indicators were slightly higher week-on-week, with trade lambs ranging from 520-600c/kg and heavy lambs at 550-580c/kg. However, there is a shift towards lowering rates in line with increasing saleyard supplies. Mutton rates were 5-14c/kg lower week-on-week.

In Victoria, the NLRS said light and trade weight lamb over-the-hook indicators eased 10-15c/kg cwt week-on-week to 590-620c/kg, while heavy weight categories were steady at 590-600c/kg. Mutton indicators remained unchanged on last week’s levels, with medium weight averaging 367c/kg cwt.

In South Australia, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the-hook indicators eased an average of 3c/kg cwt week-on-week, with trade weights averaging 533c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators moved 10c/kg cwt lower on average across all categories, with medium weights at 334c/kg cwt.

Current over-the-hook indicators for Western Australia and Tasmania were not available when this report was published.

Dubbo’s trade lambs sell $9-$13 cheaper

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 43,020 lambs, 9010 more than two weeks ago, and 7600 sheep, 710 more.

The NLRS said the first sale of the fortnight and some continuing fine weather produced a large yarding. It was a fair quality yarding with a good selection of trade and heavy weight lambs, and a large percentage of Merinos and hoggets. Not all the regular buyers were operating in the cheaper market.

Light lambs sold $3-$4 cheaper to processors, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores making $72-$112. Compared to the last sale two weeks ago, trade lambs were $9-$13 cheaper, with new season trade lambs selling from $102-$142 to average 560c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $11-$13 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 scores making $128-$176.

Merino lambs were $5 cheaper, with the trade weights selling from $98-$139. Restockers paid to $115 for lambs to fatten and to $127 for hoggets.

It was a mostly good quality yarding of mutton. Compared to the cheaper market of two weeks ago, most grades were $7-$13 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $42-$86, while the better 3 and 4 scores sold from $82-$128 for crossbreds and $140 for longer wool Merinos. Longer wool Merino wethers sold to $133. Restockers paid up to $170 for crossbred ewes and to $168 for young woolly Merino ewes.

Tamworth’s heavy young lambs fall $2-$4

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 5500 lambs, 2000 more than two weeks ago, and 1500 sheep, 1000 more.

The NLRS said with a couple of weeks of dry weather and no sale last week due to the public holiday, sheep and lamb numbers increased significantly. The overall quality of the lambs was good, with plentiful well-finished young lambs. Old lambs were also well-supplied; however, quality and condition varied.

The usual buyers attended, but demand was weaker in the face of increased supplies hitting the market. This resulted in mostly cheaper trends when compared to the previous sale two weeks ago. Old lambs sold to processors were most-affected, with the biggest discounts for the secondary quality lambs.

Heavy young lambs were $2-$4 cheaper, with the well-finished old lambs down $6-$7. Trade weight young lambs experienced similar market trends. Restockers were active on the plainer condition old lambs as well as the light young lambs. Given the age and weight of the old lambs purchased by restockers prices were very strong.

It was a very good quality penning of well-finished sheep. Market trends were firm to slightly dearer, despite the increase in supply.

Corowa’s new season lambs drop $5-$10

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 14,550 lambs and 3200 sheep.

The NLRS said lamb numbers increased again this week due to the public holiday last week and included 12,700 new season lambs. Quality, yield and skin prices continue to improve. All major domestic buyers attended the cheaper market where rates fluctuated.

New season lambs sold $5-$10 cheaper. Light trade weight lambs sold from $106-$127, medium trades made $118-$138 and the heavy trade lines sold from $125-$145 to average 545c/kg. Lambs over 24kg sold from $140-$161. Restockers underpinned the market, paying to $128. Old trade lambs prices fell by $5, trade weights made $102-$130 and extra heavies sold to $131.

It was a mixed quality offering of sheep and all the usual buyers competed strongly in the firm market. Heavy weight crossbred ewes made to $132 and Merino ewes to $131. Wethers were $2 dearer and made to $135, and hoggets sold to $128.

Forbes’ young trade lambs $5-$8 cheaper

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 33,490 lambs, 18,030 more than last week, and 10,100 sheep, 5700 more.

The NLRS said 18,400 new season lambs were penned of similar quality to previous sales. There were some good runs of well-finished lambs, some drier plainer types and a good selection of lighter store-type lambs. The usual trade buyers and restockers competed in the cheaper market.

New season lambs sold to restockers for $76-$111. Light lambs slipped $6 to $112-$124. Trade weights were $5-$8 easier at $120-$149. Heavy lambs also slipped $8 to $145-$166. Carcase prices averaged from 603-636c/kg.

Old lambs were also $5-$8 easier. Light lambs sold from $105-$118. Trade weights made $115-$133. Heavy lambs sold from $123-$147.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was very mixed. Prices remained strong, with Merino ewes making $80-$121. Crossbreds sold from $82-$126 and Merino wethers made $90-$125.

Inverell lambs $8-$10 cheaper

At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3835 lambs, 595 more than two weeks ago, and 1243 sheep, 233 more.

The NLRS said the lambs include a good supply of trade weights, several pens of heavy weights and a fair number of light weight lines. Quality was mixed, with several runs of well-finished lambs along with the light lines.

Competition was weaker, with trade lambs selling $8-$10 cheaper and light lambs losing more in places.

The mixed quality sheep yarding comprised mainly ewes and a few pens of wethers. The market was generally slightly easier for most sheep.

Bendigo lambs $4-$10 cheaper

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 27,854 lambs, 10,942 more than last week, and 6327 sheep, 4118 more.

The NLRS said the number of new season lambs increased. Quality varied from very good to average as the young lambs continued to show weight with the favourable season. Most of the larger contingent of buyers operated, but were more selective.

With the extra supply, the market was $4-$10 cheaper. Restockers from Ballarat, Swan Hill Birchip and Shepparton paid $112-$136 for 2 and 3 score store lambs and $75-$88 for light 1 scores, with most purchases at 580-600c/kg. The light trade weight 2 score new season lambs sold from $100-$112, averaging close to 570c/kg. Medium trade weight 2 and 3 score lambs of good quality made from $115-$133 and better drafts of heavy trade weights sold from $130-$148, at 536-595c/kg, averaging an estimated 565c/kg. Heavy lambs of 3 and 4 score sold from $146-$155 and new season young lambs, ideal for the exporters, sold from $153-$175, averaging above 550c/kg.

Medium weight old lambs, 2 and 3 scores, sold from $106-$115, and the better finished 3 scores made $126-$138.

There was a rise in the number of shorn sheep, with Merino and crossbreds in good condition. Most prices were unchanged, although crossbred mutton rates eased in places from $4-$6 compared to last week’s market. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $65-$85. Medium trade weights mostly sold from $86-$106 and full wool Merino ewes made to $117, 364-486c/kg. Merino ewe mutton averaged 425c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes 4 and 5 score sold from $112-$139, averaging 376c/kg. Medium weight 2 score Merino wethers made $86-$110, and the heavier 3 and 4 score drafts sold for $107-$130, to average 430c/kg. The best of the rams of all breeds sold from $88-$110.

Ballarat lambs $6-$10 cheaper

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 26,359 lambs, 10,181 more than last week, and

The NLRS said the usual buyers attended, although not all operated fully. Quality varied from average to very good, with most lambs in very good condition and handling very well. There was a good selection in all grades.

Heavy lambs sold easier and up to $170. The heavier trade weights also sold easier at $126-$146 and averaging 540-550c/kg. Lambs generally sold $6-$10 easier, and more in places.

Local, Mallee and north-east restockers paid from $90-$130 and from $80-$90 for lighter lambs. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $91-$94. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $92-$124 and averaged around 570c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $118-$130, and the heavier weights made $126-$146, or 520-580c/kg to average 540-550c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $141-$170. The heaviest of the old lambs made $120-$126, and heavy hoggets sold to $127.

Not all the regular buyers operated on the sheep. Heavier Merino sheep sold close to last week’s levels, but the crossbred and lighter Merino sheep eased $5-$10 in places. Most sheep are presenting in very good condition considering the wet season.

Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $46-$86.50. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $65-$112, or 310-470c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 430c/kg. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $105-$120, with the medium weights making $85-$100 and averaging around 420c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $97-$117 and the heavy crossbreds made $84-$141.

Dublin lamb prices fall $8-$15

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,500 lambs, 6500 more than last week, and 2500 sheep, 1500 more.

The NLRS said there was the usual trade and processor buyers, along with a number of restocker orders seeking supply.

Grazier demand for lambs was $10 stronger, but lamb prices fell by $8-$15 overall. Light weight lambs sold to the trade for $90-$105. Restockers paid $5-$140 for Merinos replacements. Trade weight score 3 lambs ranged from $90-$105. Heavy new season lambs ranged from $118-$165. A much smaller yarding of old lambs was presented with light weights making from $40-$60 and trade weights from $85-$128. Light weight hoggets ranged from $54-$90 with medium-heavy weights selling from $106-$132.

Sheep prices remained firm. Light ewes ranged from $56-$76, medium types made from $78-$84 and heavy weights $86-$119. Light weight wethers sold from $70-$98 with heavy weights-$132. Rams sold from $65-$130.

Naracoorte restockers active

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 17,046 lambs, 9013 more than last week, and 3162 sheep, 17 fewer.

The NLRS offering consisted of mainly second cross new season lambs, some with excellent weights and condition as quality lifted. These sold to another large field of trade and processor buyers, with strong competition across the board.

Competition for lambs to turn out and grow on increased, with more orders in the market. Prices fluctuated as heavy lamb rates came back and light lamb prices rose due to strong restocker demand.

Light weight new season lambs sold to the trade for $78.50-$110 and light weight trade 2 and 3 score new season types made $108-$117. Restockers were very active, sourcing supply across a number of different categories from $62-$129. Prices lifted $5 as lambs were sourced for a number of orders, including from Ballarat.

Trade weight 3 score new season lambs sold from $106-$139 at an average of 570c/kg. Heavy weight new season lambs made $142-$173, averaging 550c/kg, with the heavier end of the market easing by $8-$10. Light weight hoggets sold to $90, with the heavier types making up to $110.

Light weight ewes sold from $65-$85, medium weights made $80-$97 at an average of 370c/kg  and heavy ewes mostly sold from $90-$120, and up to $130 in an isolated sale. Rams made $88-$110.

Restockers, exporters keep Muchea lamb prices firm

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8522 lambs, 5381 more than last week, and 5500 sheep, 700 more.

The NLRS said warmer weather and drier conditions in outer areas, along with firmer prices, led to a nearly 70 percent increase in the lamb yarding. Lighter weight lambs suitable for air freight, restocker and live export buyers, and lighter trade weight drafts, were plentiful, but heavy lambs were limited. Quality overall remained good.

All the usual buyers attended, but some were not operating. This gave live exporters and restockers an opportunity, keeping prices firm for most lambs.

Light lamb sold from $40-$90 and the air freight drafts were marginally dearer, averaging close to $80. The lighter conditioned restockers and live export drafts sold firm to marginally cheaper. Trade lambs sold from $86-$104 to be equal week-on-week at 445c/kg. Heavy trade lambs averaged close to $104.

Sheep supplies were solid, with wethers and rams in small numbers. Processors paid $50-$61 for lighter drafts and the medium weight ewes sold firm at $60-$75. Prime condition ewes, including heavy weight drafts, sold from $77-$92, also equal to last week at close to 290c/kg. Demand for wethers remained solid from live export and export feeders. Heavy weight wethers made $95-$106 and lighter drafts from $80-$109, depending on condition and wool length. Both categories were close to firm.

Younger ewes met solid restocker demand to sell dearer and prices were firm from processors. Restockers were active on younger Merino ewes from $50 up to $96 for better longer wool ewes. Mature ewes sold from $48 for plain store drafts up to $115 for large framed ewes carrying a full fleece. All restocker drafts sold $5-$10 dearer.

Rams continued at similar prices, with live exporters holding prices up on ram lambs and young ram drafts. Most ram lambs made $70-$99 and younger drafts sold from $50-$89. Older rams sold to processors for $35-$65.

Tasmanian lambs cheaper

In Tasmania on Tuesday, the agents at Powranna and Killafaddy yarded 440 lambs, 140 more than last week, and 170 sheep, 80 more.

The NLRS said most prices were slightly cheaper, but quotes were difficult on the very small numbers in most categories. Light and light trade lambs made $71-$117, trade weights sold from $113-$133 and heavy weights sold for $131-$147. The sheep were mainly heavy ewes that made $95-$100.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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  1. Brenton Hinkley, October 12, 2016

    How come in Western Australia our grid price is $4.80?

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