LAMB prices dropped sharply mid-week, reversing gains earlier in the week, as saleyard offerings increased with warming weather and hot conditions forecast.
Meat and Livestock Australia said eastern states lamb throughput lifted 26 percent week-on-week to 177,130 by Thursday at saleyards covered by the National Livestock Reporting Service.
Supply was higher across all of the eastern states as warmer conditions are expected this weekend, MLA said. Although the quality of new season lambs was generally good mid-week, trade and heavy weight young lambs met erratic demand from buyers.
After Thursday saleyard markets, the Eastern States Daily Indicator for trade lambs fell 12 cents to 524c/kg and the heavy indice had fallen 15 cents to 507c/kg. Reflecting the relative strength in restocking interest, the other lamb ESDIs were less affected: restocker 565c/kg, down 1 cent; light 472, up 3c, and; Merinos 505c/kg, down 3c.
Mutton consignments were firm in the week up to Thursday, at 61,203. The mutton ESDI closed 14 cents down on 330c/kg and the national indicator was 16 cents lower at 329c/kg.
MLA said eastern states sheep slaughter recently lifted to its highest point since the first week of March, with 146,865 head processed at the close of last week as many producers conduct seasonal sheep culls.
Carcoar’s young trade lambs $6-$10 cheaper
In New South Wales at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7000 lambs, 3407 more than last week, and 2825 sheep, 1125 more.
The NLRS said the mixed yarding had more well-finished new season lambs and fewer older lambs. Light weight lambs were $5 cheaper, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $54-$91. Trade weight new season lambs were $6-$10 cheaper at $86-$112. A single pen of new season lambs sold for $148. Trade and heavy weight old lambs sold firm, with lambs over 18kg making $90-$140.
Prices eased for the mixed quality sheep yarding. The heavy first cross 4 score ewes slipped $5 to average $90.80. Merino heavy weight wethers were also cheaper, back $13, at $82-$105, to average $86.30.
Wagga lamb competition erratic
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 30,000 lambs, 10,000 more than last week, and 10,000 sheep, 5000 more.
The NLRS said new season lamb quality was outstanding, with just over 20,000 penned. Old lamb numbers declined and quality varied greatly. All the usual domestic and export buyers attended, but not all operated at full capacity. New season lambs were well-supplied in all trade weight classes and competition was extremely erratic with the market struggling to find traction.
The most-affected weight category was 22-24kg cwt lambs, for which prices dropped to a low of $114.50. The trade generally operated from 480-499c/kg cwt. Well-finished medium and heavy trade lambs made $108-$132. There was increased restocker interest at the cheaper prices and they paid from $76-$115.
Old trade lamb quality was plainer, with most lambs struggling to attract competition. The better finished 21-24kg lambs sold from $80-$115, with heavy trade lambs averaging 414c/kg. The reduced selection of heavy and extra heavy lambs sold to a smaller group of buyers from $109-$155.
Sheep prices fell $11-$34. Heavy crossbred ewes struggled to attract buyers, averaging 227c/kg cwt. Most of the trade weight sheep were Merino ewes with varying skin lengths. Merino trade sheep generally sold $11 cheaper at $56-$88 to average 280c/kg cwt.
Restockers active at Horsham
In Victoria at the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 13,999 lambs, 5272 more than last week, and 7025 sheep, 3081 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was better this week with many trade weight and heavy lambs showing good finish. They were available in reasonable numbers. The usual buyers operated in a mostly firm market with the better presented lambs selling a few dollars up on selected lots.
Heavy lambs reached a market top of $155. Restockers from a wide area were active, mostly paying $73-$108, and from $50-$70 for lighter lots. There were fewer old lambs and the heavier drafts made $102-$122. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $79-$89. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $87-$120 and averaged around 530c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $117-$129, with heavier drafts making $125-$140.50, or 510-580c/kg to average 530-540c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $140-$155, at around 520c/kg.
All weights and grades of crossbred and Merino sheep were offered. Most of the buyers operated in a cheaper market, with sheep selling from $2-$10 easier. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $38.50-$73. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $57-$89, or 265-380c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 330c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $66-$87, with heavy Merino wethers making $84-$85 and heavy Merino ewes to $96. Restockers paid $89.50 for Merino ewes and bought crossbred ewes for $91.50 and $115.
Hamilton trade lambs $4-$5 cheaper
At the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 1009 lambs, 264 fewer than last year, and 1413 sheep, 8 more.
The NLRS said old lamb quality was plain to average in the old lambs and penning for a restricted number of buyers.
Restocker activity was minimal, and two pens of new season lambs estimated at 16kg sold for $86. Light weight old lambs sold $5-$6 cheaper. Medium trade weight and the heavier old lambs were $4-$5 easier. Light weight 2 score lambs made $41-$79. Light trade 2 and 3 scores sold from $82-$102, averaging around 450c/kg cwt. Medium to heavy weight old lambs, 3 and 4 score, sold from $96-$117.
In a mixed quality sheep offering, the light weight 2 score sheep sold from $38-$70 and the medium weight mutton, 2 and 3 score, made $61-$78, ranging from 250-350c/kg to average 310c/kg cwt. Light weight sheep were firm and the better condition medium and heavy mutton was $2-$4 cheaper. Heavier crossbred 3 and 4 score sheep sold from $72-$97 and the medium and heavy Merino wethers, 2 and 3 score, made $75-$85, averaging 340c/kg. Hoggets, 3 and 4 score, sold from $70-$90 and rams of all breeds made $55-$84.
Katanning new season lamb prices lower
In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 3000 lambs, 2000 more than last week, and 8205 sheep, 820 more.
The NLRS said new season lamb prices were down on quality at up to $105. Young rams and wethers were in demand and remained firm. All the usual buyers attended. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $80-$105 and light weights made from $45-$80. Store Merino new season lambs sold for $20-$49. Old season crossbred trade weight lambs made $55-$82. Air freight lambs sold from $42-$85. Store crossbred lambs sold to restockers for $32-$39. Merino store lambs made $18-$69, depending on size and quality.
Store Merino ewes dominated the yarding, with prices easing by $4. Young bare shorn Merino ewes sold to restockers for $35 and those with full wool made to $85. The best store wethers sold to $89. Ewe prices eased $4-$6 on last week’s prices. Light bare shorn ewes sold for $20 and those with wool made to $32. The 2 score bare shorn processor sheep sold from $30 and those with a 75mm fleece made to $65. The better 3 score bare shorn sheep sold from $50 and those with a fleece made to $78.
Restockers and feeders paid $50-$85 for wethers, depending on quality and weight. Bare shorn live export wethers sold from $80 and those with a fleece made to $101. Young rams sold to $61 and older rams made $5-$35.
Warwick competition lambs sell to $204
In Queensland at the Warwick saleyards, the agents yarded 990 lambs and hoggets, and 336 sheep.
The market eased slightly on last week’s rates. A good line up of hoof and hook competition lambs met strong support from buyers, with the champion pen of lambs selling for $204.
The top lambs in the general yarding from T.G. and M.S. Thomson of Boona Mia at Tara sold for $135.
Crossbred lambs 46-55lg lwt sold from $124-$135, the 42-45kg lambs made $112-$121; 36-42kg lines ranged from $106-$114 and 35-40kg lambs made $98-$105. Shorn crossbred hoggets weighing 61kg lwt sold to $83.
Trade wethers with $8 skins sold to $ 84, or 370c/kg cwt, and light wethers with $4 skins made to $48, or 285c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes with $10 skins sold to $94, or 350c/kg, and light lines with $3 skins made to $40, or 255c/kg.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.