Lamb prices and quality wane as dry conditions continue

Sheep Central, March 9, 2016
These August September mid-December shorn Poll Dorset cross lambs, 17.2kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $109 at Digby, VIctoria, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These August September mid-December shorn Poll Dorset cross lambs, 17.2kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $109 at Digby, VIctoria, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

AS dry conditions continued this week, New South Wales’ slaughter lamb prices fell in saleyards, equalising with the generally firm to dearer rates in Victoria and South Australia.

More lambs are being offered with dry skins and with fewer quality trade weights being offered, domestic buyers are pushing into heavy lambs.

The National Livestock Reporting Service reported trade lambs as $5-$7 cheaper in Dubbo, down $3-$6 in Tamworth and $3-$6 easier in Forbes, to generally $87-$140 for 18-24kg lambs, or 400-558c/kg.

Heavy and extra heavy lambs in NSW were $4-$8 in Dubbo, $5-$9 in Tamworth and Forbes, to range from $116-$171 or 343-570c/kg for 24kg-plus lambs.

Light lambs slipped $3-$6 to $51-$109 in NSW, with a broader carcase weight price range of 294-746c/kg due mainly to quality and restocker demand.

In Victoria at Bendigo and Ballarat, trade and heavy lambs sold firm to slightly dearer on quality and keen restocker and processor competition on light lambs lifted rates $7 at Bendigo.

Trade lambs in Victoria started the week at $88.60-$134.60, or 400-582c/kg. Heavy lambs over 24kg cwt made $108-$178.50, or 363-556c/kg.

South Australian sellers also experienced strong demand for light lambs, with prices rising $4-$6 at Naracoorte. Heavy lamb prices rose $10 at Dublin, coming into line with national rates.

SA’s trade lambs made $89-$140, or 392-574c/kg, and heavy/extra heavy lambs ranged from $97-$160, or 318-559c/kg.

NLRS indicators fall

Despite firm to dearer prices in some saleyards, the dominance of secondary lambs contributed to a general fall in the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb early this week. The light and trade lamb indicators lost 13c/kg in the first two days selling this week and heavy weights dropped 7c/kg.

After Tuesday’s sales, the ESDIs for lamb were: restocker 524c/kg, down 3 cents; Merinos 466c/kg, down 5c; light 493c/kg, down 2c; trade 499c/kg, down 7c; heavy 499c/kg, down 3c. The national trade lamb indicator closed 7 cents down at 497c/kg on Tuesday and the heavy indice finished on 499c/kg, down 6 cents.

The ESDI and national mutton indicators finished down 6 cents on 291c/kg after Tuesday’s sales.

Over-the-hook lamb rates drop

In New South Wales, the NLRS quoted OTH lamb rates as continuing to fall, as hot and dry conditions grip the state and impacted on quality and supply. Mutton rates have also eased, but not to the same degree as lambs.

NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 460-530c/kg, down 18 cents; 20-24kg, 480-530c/kg, down 22c; 24-26kg, 490-500c/kg, down 20c; Merinos 16-22kg, 390-470c/kg, down 20c. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 190-280c/kg, down 10c; 18-24kg, 240-300c/kg, down 3c; 24kg+, 260-300c/kg, down 3c.

In Victoria, the NLRS quoted OTH rates for lamb as easing as hot and dry weather conditions persisted, affecting lamb quality. Mutton rates continue to firm.

Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 520-550c/kg, firm to 3c/kg down; 24-26kg, 500-520c/kg, down 5c; 26kg+, 500c/kg, down 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, no change. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 250-280c/kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 280-300c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 220-290c/kg, up 4c.

In South Australia, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook lamb indicators as falling in line with all other states’ lower rates. Mutton over-the-hook indicators remain firm.

SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 500c/kg, down 20c; 18-24kg, 500-540c/kg, down 17c; 24-26kg, 500c/kg, down 17c; Merinos 16-22kg, 470c/kg, down 20c. The mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 190-300c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 210-290c/kg, up 3c; 24kg+, 170-190c/kg, up 2c.

In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook lamb indicators as rising 10-15 cents while mutton rates held firm.

Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 490-520c/kg, up 15c; 16-18kg, 500-540c/kg, up 15c; 18-24kg, 510-540c/kg, up 10c; 24-26kg, 520-540c/kg, up 10c; 26kg+, 510-540c/kg, up 10c. The mutton rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg, nc; 14-24kg, 270-280c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 260-270-c/kg, nc.

Dubbo’s trade and heavy lambs $4-$8 cheaper

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 22,250 lambs, 1515 fewer than last week, and 12,000 sheep, 1775 more than last week.

The NLRS said the mixed yarding of lambs had the usual runs of heavy weights and the odd pen of neat trade weights. Merino lambs and white Dorpers also made up a fair percentage of the yarding.

Light weight lambs sold $6 cheaper to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $59-$90. Trade lambs were $5-$7 cheaper, with the 18-23kg 3 scores selling from $88-$128 to average around 490c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $4-$8 cheaper, except extra heavy weights, which were around firm. The over 22kg 4 scores sold from $107-$171. Merino lambs were around firm, with the trade weights selling from $94-$118. Restockers paid to $105 and hoggets sold to $109.

The fair quality yarding of sheep had some good pens of heavy weights and a fair selection of plainer types. Light and medium weight sheep sold firm and the heavier weight ewes were up to $10 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $35-$68. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds made $50-$102 and Merinos made up to $99. Prime Merino wethers sold from $92-$106.

Tamworth’s heavy lambs fall $5-$9

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 5070 lambs, 1760 more than last week, and 2550 sheep, 800 more.

The NLRS said it was one of the largest pennings for some time, brought on by seasonal conditions deteriorating by the day. Lamb quality was mostly good, though there was a vast range in weight and finish. The regular processing orders were in place, but there was next to no restocker demand for store lambs. There were cheaper trends throughout, with the restocker young lambs most affected.

Trade weight lambs averaged $3-$6 cheaper. Heavy weight old lambs averaged $5-$9 cheaper, with some of those prices affected by quality. There were large numbers of lambs showing signs of dryness due to a lack of fresh green feed.

A large percentage of the sheep offering were light weight ewes. Light weight sheep sold to a slightly cheaper trend. Restocker bid on a large line of light weight CFA Merino ewes at prices well below those when the season was better. The lack of supply of well-finished medium and heavy sheep was evident with those classes selling firm to slightly dearer.

Forbes heavy lambs drop $5-$9

In the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 24,250 lambs, 4325 fewer than last week, and 8950 sheep, 441 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed, with some good lines of well-finished lambs, though a large percentage of the yarding showed the effects of the continuing dry spell. Most of the usual buyers competed in a cheaper market.

Light lambs slipped $3 to $89-$97. Trade weights were $3-$5 easier at $98-$123. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were the most affected, slipping $5-$9. Heavy lambs sold from $118-$134 and extra heaves received from $126-$171. Carcase prices mostly ranged from 460-496c/kg.

Sheep quality was mixed. Most were Merinos and prices slipped $7-$10. Merino ewes sold from $70-$90 and crossbreds made $70-$98. Dorper ewes sold from $64-$83. Some handy runs of Merino wethers made $74-$115.

Bendigo’s store lambs $7 dearer

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 10,987 lambs, 2036 fewer than last week, and 5060 sheep, 1054 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality also deteriorated, with fewer heavy lambs coming forward off grain and lucerne following last week’s cheaper rates. Most of the lighter lambs showed the effects of the ongoing dry and hot weather.

Quality was a factor in prices, with the best slaughter lambs similar to last week, but plainer and drier types averaging $2-$3 easier. Light lambs sold well in comparison, with the main runs of store lambs in the 12-16kg category averaging $7 dearer. The market reached a top of $167 for heavy export lambs. There was only about a dozen pens of heavy export lambs over 28kg which sold from $153 up to $167 for a pen estimated at around 32kg cwt. These heavy lambs ranged from about 472-500c/kg depending on breed quality and finish.

Quality and weight tailed-off very quickly and the limited pens of heavy trade weight lambs sold from $122-$145 with the major domestic buyers pushing into more weight again this week to access better carcase finish. However, the majority of the trade weight lambs were plainer types showing dryness which sold from $100-$120. On a carcase basis, the best crossbred trade lambs made around 530c, but price averages across the yarding were generally 485-510c/kg.

Light lambs were well supported by restockers and processors, with most sales from $80-$96. The best trade weight Merino lambs in a big skin sold to $133, with plainer and lighter types making $86-$113.

The better yarding of sheep had more lines of Merino wethers and ewes. Like recent sales, not all the major exporters operated. Prices over most mutton categories showed a weaker trend of $2-$5. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $76-$96. The best Merino wethers sold to $98.60 and ewes to $85. The better quality mutton was estimated at 280-310c/kg cwt.

Ballarat’s lamb prices hold firm

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,389 lambs, 2330 fewer than last week, and 6074 sheep, 4386 less.

The NLRS said quality was average to good. Large numbers of trade weight and heavy lambs presented in very good condition considering the tough season, with extra heavy lambs selling to $178.50. The usual buyers operated in a mostly firm market, with lambs generally selling around last week’s levels.

The better quality trade weight and heavy lambs sold a few dollars dearer in places as domestic orders stepped up a little in weight to source the better quality. Restockers and feeders were again active and paid from $83-$125 for lambs and from $45-$70 for lighter lots. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $56-$84. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $88-$114 and averaged around 530c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $112-$125, with the heavier drafts making $120-$140, or 480-570c/kg, to average around 530c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $138-$160. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $165-$178 and averaged close to 500c/kg.

The sheep yarding included all weights and grades, but fewer heavy Merinos. Most medium and light sheep sold close to last week’s levels and some heavier crossbred sheep were a little easier. Medium and heavy Merino wethers were a few dollars easier. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $34-$70. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $47-$95, or 225-320c/kg cwt, with Merino mutton averaging around 300c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $61-$113.50, heavy Merino ewes from $74-$85. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $77-$96 and the medium weights made $63-$89, or around 290c/kg.

Dublin’s heavy lambs lift $10

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9116 lambs, 3192 fewer than last week, and 1802 sheep, 220 more.

The NLRS said the generally good quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger trade and processor bidding. The prices attained during the early sales were far in excess of those generated in the latter sales and returns for supplementary fed, heavy weight crossbreds provided a stark contrast. Feeders and restockers were active, particularly on heavier type crossbred lambs. Crossbred lambs to feed on sold from $78-$108 and light weight 3 score crossbreds sold to trade buyers lifted $2 to $100-$108. Light trade weight 4 scores sold from $106-$115, averaging 466c/kg cwt, while heavy trade weights lifted $3 to $112-$140, averaging 498c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $10 to $130-$174 and returned 524-532c/kg.

Light weight Merino lambs sold to restockers for $40-$72. Light weights sold to processors lifted $3 to $90-$105. Trade weights lifted marginally to $105-$122, averaging 442c/kg, and heavy weights sold from $115-$138, averaging 477c/kg.

The good quality yarding of sheep sold to stronger processor demand. The 2 score Merino ewes lifted $11 to $60-$78, averaging 249c/kg. Heavy weight 3 scores lifted $6 to $70-$110, averaging 286c/kg. Heavy weight wethers lifted $6 to $88-$126, averaging 319c/kg.

Naracoorte’s light store lambs lift $4-$6

At the Naracoorte sale yards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1332 lambs, 11 more than last week, and 441 sheep, 725 fewer.

The NLRS said the reduced offering sold to a small field of trade and processor buyers, and restockers.

Prices for light weight store lambs improved by $4-$6. Light weight lambs ranged from mainly $48-$100. Light trade 2 and 3 score types sold to $98. Restockers paid $40-$102. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $108-$126 at an average of 525c/kg and similar Merinos made $118-$124. The few heavy 4 score lambs mainly sold from $120-$136 and extra heavy weights made to $145.

Light ewes sold to $51 and medium weight crossbreds made $72-$77, while similar Merinos ranged from $65-$74. These sheep averaged 290c/kg. Heavy ewes sold from $82-$98, with heavy Merino ewes making $85-$96. Wethers sold to $100 and rams made $45-$73.

Muchea prices firm

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4754 lambs, 1762 fewer than last week, and 3866 sheep, 2716 less.

The NLRS said prices remained firm for a mixed quality yarding of sheep and lambs.

The few pens of heavy crossbred lambs weighing 22kg plus were very good and sold from $100-$120. Trade crossbred lambs, 18-22kg, sold from $105-$109. Airfreight types, 16-18kg, made $70-$95. Lighter store crossbred lambs met solid competition from feeders and sold from $39-$75, depending on quality.

The hoggets yarded were mainly ewes and sold from $77-$90 for trade types. Stores sold from $43-$57. Young Merino sheep were keenly sought after, with better 18-24kg ewe lambs selling from $89-$100 to the trade while graziers paid from $48-$61. Merino wether lambs sold from $87-$92 to the trade. The better store lambs made $55-$85, with very light store wethers selling from $40-$54.

The mutton market remained firm. Heavy ewes sold from $64-$81. Good ewes weighing 18-22kg sold to processors for $55-$62. Light store ewes sold to graziers for $25-$51. Live export orders drove the wether market, with heavy weights making $90-$111, the mediums $80-$90 and stores $55-$69. Rams remained unchanged, with light weights selling from $10-$25. Old heavy weights sold to processors for $10-$20 and the younger medium weights met solid live export competition to make $52-$65.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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.


Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -