Domestic Lamb

Lamb prices dip with quality as direct sale bookings impact

Terry Sim, October 22, 2014
These 15.2kg cwt White Suffolk-1st cross lambs from Mundulla, SA, sold for $90 on AuctionsPlus on Tuesday.

These 15.2kg cwt White Suffolk-1st cross lambs from Mundulla, SA, sold for $90 on AuctionsPlus on Tuesday.

Restocker inquiry continued to underpin trade lamb rates this week, though quickly drying seasonal conditions and deterioration in lamb freshness tempered demand.

Eastern state agents were still buying to fill lamb contract commitments for later in the year and early-2015, but supermarket and exporter demand restricted to topping up of over-the-hook purchases meant heavy, old and secondary lamb prices were hit the hardest in some yards.

The overall national result was falls in the main indicators, with the National Livestock Reporting Service quoting the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator at 460 c/kg cwt after Tuesday’s sales, down five cents, with a similar drop for heavy lambs to 454c/kg cwt. The ES mutton indicator finished at 284c/kg cwt, down five cents.

The national indicators also fell for the trade and heavy lambs, and for mutton, with only the light, restocker and Merino lamb levels holding firm or lifting. The national lamb indicators after Tuesday were: restocker 472c/kg cwt, up 4 cents; Merinos 383c/kg, no change; light 427c/kg, up 3c; trade 459c/kg, down 3c; heavy 452c/kg, down 6c. The mutton indicator lost five cents to end at 281c/kg cwt.

Over the hook rates fell across the country for sheep, and for lambs at some works in NSW and WA, but were unchanged elsewhere.

NSW OTH lamb and mutton rates down

In NSW, the NLRS said OTH lamb rates eased across all weight ranges this week, after a couple of contributors made downward adjustments, while others kept their rates steady. Mutton rates were also lower, after saleyard prices declined last week. The average OTH lamb rates for 2-4 scores are: 18-22kg, 483c/kg cwt, down 7 cents; 22-24kg, 482c/kg, down 8c; 24-26kg, 467c/kg, down 7c; 26kg+, 450c/kg, down 13c; Merinos 16-22kg, 395c/kg, no change. Sheep: 14-18kg, 252c/kg, down 7c; 18-24kg, 288c/kg, down 4c; 24kg+, 303c/kg, down 4c.

SA OTH lamb rates unchanged

In SA, the NLRS said OTH lamb rates remained unchanged this week, with trade weight lambs averaging 480c/kg cwt. Mutton rates registered declines across all weight ranges. The OTH Lamb rates are: 18-24kg, 480c/kg, nc; 224-26kg+, 455c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 465c/kg, nc. Sheep: 14-18kg, 173c/kg, down 7c; 18-24kg+, 220c/kg, down 40c.

Victorian OTH lamb rates steady

In Victoria, the NLRS said OTH lamb prices remained fairly steady week-on-week, with the majority of contributors reporting little change in the market. Mutton prices declined across all categories, with medium weight mutton carcases averaging 258c/kg cwt. The lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 515c/kg; 18-20kg, 486c/kg; 20-22kg, 496c/kg, 22-24kg, 480c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 450c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 415c/kg, nc. Sheep: 14-18kg, 233c/kg, down 10c; 18-24kg, 258c/kg, down 28c; 24kg+, 240c/kg, down 35c.

WA OTH sheep and lamb rates lower

In WA, the NLRS reported OTH price drops fell for all lamb categories and heavier mutton. The lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 425c/kg, down 15c; 18-22kg, 440c/kg, down 10c; 22-26kg, 445c/kg, down 15c; 26kg+, 433c/kg, down 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 393c/kg, nc. Sheep: 14-18kg, 235c/kg, nc; 18-24kg+, 250c/kg, down 13c.

Tasmania’s OTH prices unchanged

In Tasmania, the NLRS reported OTH lamb and mutton rates as unchanged. The lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 430c/kg, nc; 16-18kg, 460c/kg, nc; 18-20kg, 465c/kg, nc; 20-24kg, 470c/kg, nc; 24-26kg+, 465c/kg, nc. Sheep: 0-14kg, 290c/kg, nc; 14-24kg, 310c/kg, nc.

Restockers help lift trade lambs at Dubbo

In NSW on Monday at the Dubbo saleyards, the agents yarded 21,200 lambs, 7200 fewer than last week, and 9600 sheep, 3625 less.

The NLRS said quality was mixed, with a good selection of trade and heavy weight lambs, along with a good percentage of lighter weights and Merinos. Hoggets were also well supplied.

Trade weight lambs were firm to $3 dearer with the restockers providing a solid base on the lighter weights. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $78-$110 to average 453c/kg cwt, while the restockers paid to $90.

Lightweight lambs were $3 cheaper with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $59-$78. Trade weight old lambs sold from $74-$108. Heavy weight lambs finished $5 dearer with over 22kg old lambs selling from $103-$148.

Merino lambs were $3-$6 cheaper with trade weights selling from $68-$100. Hoggets sold to $96.

Most weights and grades were represented in a mixed quality yarding of mutton. Ewes were $5-$10 cheaper, while wethers finished $6-$7 easier. The 2 score ewes sold from $21 to $65, while the 3 and 4 scores sold from $52-$92 for Merinos and $90 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $56-$98.

Young lambs $3 cheaper at Tamworth

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the NLRS said agents yarded 3270 lambs, 55 more than last week, and 1400 sheep, 600 fewer.

The NLRS said young lambs were well-supplied and there was a fair selection of mixed quality old lambs. All regular buyers operated. Overall market trends for lambs were firm to cheaper.

The market trend for trade weight young lambs was firm to $3 cheaper, with a number of the local butcher orders requiring increased weight. Secondary quality and Dorper lambs also sold to a cheaper trend. There was minimal restocker activity on the lighter condition young lambs in the face of deteriorating seasonal conditions. Heavy weight young lambs sold to a cheaper trend, down $3.

With the increasing supply of young lambs available, old lambs lost favour with buyers to sell to a cheaper trend of $2-$8. The secondary quality old lambs were the most affected.

There was a good supply of well finished medium and heavy sheep penned, with both ewes and wethers represented. The market trend was dearer, with price improvements reflecting the improved quality.

Forbes lambs prices slip $3-$5

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 24,200 lambs, 3750 more than last week, and 12,700 sheep, 4000 more.

The NLRS said there were 12,100 new season lambs penned and quality continued to be very mixed. Some good lines of well-finished lambs were offered along with the plainer drier types. Most of the usual buyers competed, along with restockers, in a cheaper market.

New season lambs to restockers sold from $68-$93. Light lambs made $80-$96. Trade weight lambs were $3-$5 easier, with prices ranging from $95-$115. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were also $3-$5 easier.

Heavy lambs sold from $114-$122 and extra heavy lambs made $121-$135. Carcase prices averaged from 464c/kg-480c/kg cwt. Old trade weight lambs sold from $82-$100, and heavy and extra heavy lambs ranged from $100-$132.

Mutton quality was mixed, with some good lines of medium and heavy sheep offered along with the plain light lines. Prices slipped $8-$10 and more in places. Merino ewes ranged from $60-$93. Crossbreds made $58-$80 and Merino wethers sold from $70-$89.

Solid restocker competition at Bendigo

In Victoria on Monday at the Bendigo saleyards, agents yarded 24,114 lambs, 2391 more than last week.

The NLRS said it was the saleyards’ biggest lamb offering this spring. Quality was mixed, with the bulk of the young lambs now presenting with dry skins. All the regular processing orders were in place, however buyers didn’t appear under pressure for numbers and bidding was fairly subdued. The market was cheaper, with heavier slaughter lambs most affected and averaging $8 less than last week. Competition was more robust for the quality trade weight lambs and these eased by $3-$5. Prices for store lambs fluctuated, with early sales similar to last week, before competition eased later in the auction for a cheaper result overall. The market reached a top of $136 for a pen of young lambs estimated to weigh about 30kg, and it was one of only four sales of export lambs above $130. Sales over $120 were also fairly limited.

There was solid competition for store lambs from Ballarat, Gippsland, Bendigo, Birchip, Wycheproof and Warracknabeal. Most sales of lambs returning to the paddock ranged from $70-$97, with Ballarat agents occasionally paying up to $108 for heavier types. While the price range for store lambs was similar to last week, agents were generally buying more weight for their money, which meant prices did work out cheaper. Processors mainly paid from $70-$90 for light weight lambs to slaughter. The bulk of the young lambs suitable for slaughter were trade weights ranging from 20-24kg cwt, and most pens sold from $96-$118. While some of the top drafts of well-bred and finished lambs still made up to 480c/kg cwt, the general run was estimated at 440c/kg-460c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs weighing over 24kg were in limited supply, with about a dozen pens making over $120, to a top of $136, to average between 440c/kg-450c/kg cwt.

The supply of old season lamb was very mixed, and this section of the market was also cheaper.

Elders livestock manager at Bendigo Nigel Starick said “quality equalled price” at the market, with few super heavy weight lambs yarded.

Lambs $3 down at Ballarat

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 23,300 lambs, 6522 more than last week, and 7822 sheep, 1314 more.

The NLRS said young lambs were well-supplied and there was a fair selection of mixed quality old lambs. All regular orders operated. Overall market trends through the lambs were firm to cheaper.

The market trend for trade weight young lambs was firm to $3 cheaper, with a number of the local butcher orders requiring increased weight. Secondary quality and Dorper lambs also sold to a cheaper trend. There was minimal restocker activity on the lighter condition young lambs in the face of deteriorating seasonal conditions. Heavy weight young lambs sold to a cheaper trend, down $3.

With the increasing supply of young lambs available, old lambs lost favour with buyers to sell to a cheaper trend of $2-$8. The secondary quality old lambs were the most affected.

There was a good supply of well-finished medium and heavy sheep penned, with both ewes and wethers represented. The market trend was dearer, with price improvements reflecting the improved quality.

Lamb restockers pay up to $105 at Naracoorte

In SA at Naracoorte on Tuesday, the agents yarded 22,741 lambs, 3186 more, and 2540 sheep, 353 fewer.

The NLRS said there was a broader range in the quality of the sheep and lambs as the countryside starts to dry off. Producers offered more lambs and a few less sheep to a near-regular field of processors and some very active restockers. Most of the penning was lambs of weights suited to restockers. Light restocking lambs were unchanged to $5 dearer, with most $2-$3 higher. This put pressure on processors chasing light weight lambs and caused them to pay $5-$8 more. The light trade weight lambs sold $3 better but medium to heavy trade weights, not sought by restockers, were $2-$3 easier. Heavy export lambs remained unchanged. The sheep sold equal at best, with most up to $5 cheaper and the better covered heavy weights were $5-$10 lower.

Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $60-$83, with restocking lambs to $85. Light trade weight 2 and 3 scores were from $80-$94, with restockers paying from $78-$88 and even up to $105 for medium trade weights. The medium to heavy trade weight 3 score lambs made $84-$110 and averaged 445c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score export lambs sold from $105-$132 and averaged 465c/kg cwt. The few heavy old lambs made to $92.

Very few light weight sheep were penned and they ranged from $11 for the very poor 1 scores up to $41 for the better covered 2 scores. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold to the best enquiry and made from $40-$62, while the heavy to extra heavy 3 to 5 scores were further discounted to $50-$66. Most ewe sheep in 2 to 4 score condition were in a range of 180c/kg-245c/kg cwt. A pen of restocking ewes topped the sale at $72 and some Merino wethers also sold to a processor for the same price. Rams were $12 lower at $12-$26 due to one dominant ram buyer not attending the sale.

Restockers buy heavier lambs at Dublin

At the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8263 lambs, 3776 fewer than last week, and 4003 sheep, 1079 fewer.

The very mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to easing competition from the usual trade and processor buyers, including a new Victorian operator concentrating on light and light trade weight lambs.

Restockers and feeders were active and the easing prices allowed feeders to buy heavier lambs to feed on. Feeder buyers bought light weight 2 score crossbreds for $44-$83, although the majority of the lambs purchased to feed on were 3 scores and sold from $76-$86.

Prices for light weight 3 score crossbred lambs to trade buyers eased $6, selling from $74-$87 and averaging 392c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 3 scores eased $10, selling from $82-$98 and averaging 393c/kg cwt, while heavy trade weight 4 scores eased $8 to sell from $94-$112 and average 409c/kg cwt. The few heavy weight 4 scores yarded eased $4-$6 and sold from $109-$125 to return 407c/kg-437c/kg cwt. Fewer Merino lambs were yarded and restockers purchased light weights from $23-$54. Light weight 2 scores to processors sold to $82, while trade weight 3 scores remained unchanged, selling from $78-$97 to average 391c/kg cwt. Heavy trade weights sold from $85-$98 and returned 361c/kg-380c/kg cwt. Few old lambs were yarded, and the heavy weight crossbreds sold from $90-$95.

The generally good quality yarding of sheep sold to the usual processors at easing prices. Restockers were occasionally active and paid $59 for ewes and $63-$69 for wethers. The 2 score ewes were scarce and demand was strong, and they lifted $3, selling from $52-$68 and averaging 240c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes were plentiful and demand was again easier, with prices from $50-$69 to averaged 195c/kg cwt. Despite wethers being scarce prices eased substantially, selling from $55-$64 and averaging 203c/kg cwt, and heavyweight rams sold from $24-$50.

Lamb and sheep prices lift at Muchea

In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5392 lambs, 608 fewer, and 6500 sheep, 1037 fewer.

The NLRS said the quality of the yarding improved with ewe weight and wool length increasing, and a slight decrease in very light lamb numbers. Prime trade lamb numbers remained limited but there were some pens of heavy lambs. Prices were stronger across the categories with lambs up around $3 and ewes were also slightly dearer. Lack of live export activity had little impact on ram and wether prices.

Light lamb to processors moved marginally higher with prices from $70-$85, to be $2 dearer. Trade weight lambs sold from $85-$107, to be close to $3 dearer, and averaged 455c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs sold to a top of $110. Old season trade lamb sold from $70-$91, back $5 on plainer quality. Light and store lamb categories were well supported with most prices rising more than $5. Larger framed drafts made $65-$77, while smaller and plainer drafts sold from $35-$60.

Ewe prices increased close to $3 for most. Light and plain drafts made $40-$45, while 2 scores suitable to processor orders sold from $45-$75, averaging $62, to be $3 dearer. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes made $63-$99, similar to last week, with a close to 270c/kg cwt average. Restocker interest lifted with ewe hogget sales $2 dearer, with suitable mature ewes making $60-$96, up to $10 dearer, largely due to wool length.

Wether sales were firm despite the absence of live export orders. Light wethers made $50-$66 to restockers. Heavy wethers sold to processors and feeders at prices from $77-$103, while lighter and store sales made from $60-$76, close to equal on last week. Rams were again firm, with ram lambs selling to a top of $95 and better young drafts from $40-$65. Old rams to processors made $10-$40.

Source: MLA, NLRS.

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