Lamb prices fall with quality and demand as supply lifts

Sheep Central, March 2, 2016
These April-May drop mid-November shorn White Suffolk-Merino cross lambs, 18.8kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $107 at Bowning, NSW, on AuctionsPLus this week.

These April-May drop mid-November shorn White Suffolk-Merino cross lambs, 18.8kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $107 at Bowning, NSW, on AuctionsPlus this week.

LAMB prices generally fell in saleyards early this week, with more offered in New South Wales and demand weaker from domestic and export buyers as dry conditions continued.

On Monday, Dubbo agents yarded nearly 10,000 more lambs than last week, with prices for Merino, trade and heavy lambs falling $4-$8.

At the Tamworth saleyards in NSW, the National Livestock Reporting Service reporters said demand was weaker through all classes with domestic consumption said to be waning through the hot weather.

In Victoria at Bendigo on Monday, the NLRS said the major domestic buyers did not push into heavier lambs as they had in recent weeks. Restocker bidding was also selective in some markets, focussing on the better shorn lambs.

NLRS lamb and mutton indicators falling

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS quoted all national Eastern States Daily Indicators and national lamb and mutton indicators as lower. The lamb ESDIs are: restocker 538c/kg, down 5 cents; Merino 487c/kg, down 2c; light 522c/kg, down 7c; trade 524c/kg, down 2c; heavy 520c/kg, down 7c. The national trade lamb indicator closed down 2 cents to 523c/kg and the heavy indice finished at 520c/kg, down 6c.

Over-the-hook rates easing

In NSW, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook indicators this week as easing slightly. Trade weight lambs are still making to 550c/kg cwt, but supply is starting to tighten.

NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 480-550c/kg, down 2 cents; 20-26kg+, 510-550c/kg, down 2-3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 410-490c/kg, no change. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 200-290c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 250-310c/kg, down 3c; 24kg+, 270-310c/kg, down 3c.

In Victoria, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook lamb rates as firm week-on-week, but as supplies become tighter prices may lift with looming short trading weeks leading up to Easter.

Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530-540c/kg; 18-22kg, 530-550c/kg; 22-24kg, 520-550c/kg; 24-26kg+, 510-520c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-280c/kg; 18-24kg, 280-300c/kg; 24kg+, 220-280c/kg.

In South Australia, the NLRS quoted SA over-the-hooks indicators as remaining steady this week, with saleyard supply tightening over the past few weeks.

South Australia’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 520c/kg; 18-24kg, 520-550c/kg; 24-26kg, 510-520c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 490c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 190-300c/kg; 18-24kg, 210-280c/kg; 24kg+, 170-280c/kg.

In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted OTH rates for sheep and lambs as unchanged. Tasmania’s OTH 2-4 score lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 480-500c/kg; 16-18kg, 490-500c/kg; 18-26kg, 510-520c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg; 14-24kg, 270-280c/kg; 24kg+, 260-270c/kg.

Western Australia’s updated OTH rates were not available when this report was published.

Dubbo’s trade lambs drop $5, heavy weights fall $4-$8

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 23,765 lambs, 9480 more than last week, and 10,225 sheep, 1765 more.

The NLRS said the fair quality yarding had a good number of heavy weight lambs and a fair percentage of trade weights. There were also some large consignments of lightweight Merino and Dorper lambs from far west NSW. Not all the regular buyers operated in the mostly cheaper market.

Lightweight lambs sold firm to processors, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores making $65-$105. Trade lambs were $5 cheaper, with the 18-23kg 3 scores selling from $95-$134 to average 513c/kg cwt. Merino lambs were $6 cheaper, with trade weights selling from $74-$120 and heavier lines making to $134. Heavy weight lambs were $4-$8 cheaper, with over 22kg 4 scores selling from $109-$169. The restockers paid to $106 for lambs to fatten and $131 for young first cross ewe lambs. Hoggets sold to $108.

The much plainer quality yarding of sheep had more light weights. The very best of the heavy weight sheep were firm, but the light and medium weights were $5 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $25-$68. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos made $50-$120 and crossbreds sold to $114.

Tamworth lambs drop $2-$8

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3310 lambs, 190 fewer than last week, and 1750 sheep, 350 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was fair to very good, with a good supply of heavyweights, but the number of well-finished trade weights was limited. A fair percentage of the lambs were showing the effects of the recent hot, dry conditions. The regular buyers attended, but restocker demand was again limited. Demand was weaker through all classes with domestic consumption said to be waning through the hot weather.

Prices averaged $2-$8 lower through most grades. The lack of restocker activity was telling in the lightweight trade lambs with those classes showing greater falls.

Quite a few well-finished medium and heavy sheep were penned despite the lack of feed stocks available in some of the drawing area. Most were ewes, with very few wethers yarded. Market trends varied, with the well-finished heavyweights selling firm to slightly dearer trend. The light and medium weight sheep sold to a cheaper trend.

Forbes’s lambs slip $2-$3

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 27,500 lambs, 1250 more than last week, and 7400 sheep, 800 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality reduced slightly, with more plain lambs showing signs of dryness offered. The usual buyers competed in a firm to slightly easier market.

Light lambs were firm to $3 easier at $94-$106. Trade weights eased $2-$3 to $106-$127. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs sold firm to $3 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $126-$141 and extra heavyweights from $139-$175. Carcase prices averaged from 496-534c/kg.

The sheep were mostly Merinos. Quality was mixed and prices held fairly steady. Merino ewes sold from $72-$116. Crossbreds ranged from $73-$105. Merino wethers sold from $70-$126.

Bendigo’s heavy lambs drop $10-$12

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 13,023 lambs, 553 fewer than last week, and 4006 sheep, 3353 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality remained mixed, reflecting the dry season, with most of the heavier and better finished lambs coming in off grain feeders. Competition was weaker, most noticeably from exporters and the main domestic buyers, which affected price results for the heavier drafts of lambs.

Heavy export lambs were up to $10-$12 cheaper and the general run of domestic slaughter lambs eased by $2-$4. Bidding for light lambs fluctuated, but there was still some very good sales to restockers and processors. Lighter lambs generally held their value better than slaughter lambs that weighed over 22kg cwt.

The market reached a top of $168 for a pen of heavy export lambs, estimated at around 32kg. The supply of export lambs was fairly limited, with less than a dozen pens selling from $155-$168. On a carcase basis, these heavy lambs averaged around 482-495c/kg.

The major domestic buyers did not push into heavier lambs like recent weeks, and the lead pens of trade weight lambs generally sold from $125-$145. The best quality trade lambs still made up to 530-540c/kg, but the average across the yarding was more like 500-515c/kg. The better presented Merino lambs in good skins sold to $134, averaging close to 480c/kg. Local restockers paid to $114 for bigger-framed store lambs and the main runs of light lambs made $85-$105. Plainer small lambs sold from $45-$75.

The sheep yarding varied in quality and weight. Like recent markets, not all the export companies competed. Prices fluctuated a few dollars either side of last week for a similar result overall, averaging around 300c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes in a big skin sold to $109 and first cross ewes to $87.

Ballarat’s heavy and extra heavy lambs fall $2-$5

The NLRS said an average to good quality yarding was offered to the usual buyers. The yarding consisted of a reasonable number of heavy lambs, a good number of trade weight lambs and a large selection of lighter lambs suiting restocker, feeder and processor orders.

These lambs sold mostly from $88-$119 to keen demand from extra restocker orders from Gippsland and north east Victoria, plus the usual local buyers. The better covered trade weight lambs sold close to unchanged, with the plainer types a little easier. Extra heavy export lambs sold to $175 and most heavy and extra heavy lambs were $2-$5 easier on last week. Lighter restocker lambs sold from $40-$65. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $72-$87.50. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $91-$120 and averaged around 540c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $115-$128, with the heavier drafts making $125-$139.50, or from 510-580c/kg, averaging mostly between 530-540c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $132-$155 to average around 520c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $158-$175. Heavy hoggets sold to $123.

The increased sheep offering included all weights and grades. Heavy crossbred ewes were well-supplied and sold to steady demand at close to last week’s levels. Most Merino sheep and lighter crossbred sheep were a few dollars easier. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $102.20 to be a few dollars up on last week. Restockers also paid from $61-$90 for Merino ewes and from $70-$72 for young shorn Merino wethers.

Light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $37-$78. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $49.50-$89.50, or 235-340c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 310c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $60-$110. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $84-$102.20 and the medium weights made $58-$94. Heavy rams made to $94.

Dublin’s heavy trade lambs fall $13, heavy weights drop $11-$16

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,308 lambs, 4575 more than last week, and 1582 sheep, 1064 fewer.

The NLRS said the generally very good quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to easing competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. The sale featured many consignments of supplementary fed heavy weight lambs and they were the worst affected by the easing trend, particularly in early sales. Feeders and restockers were again only cautiously active and concentrated mainly on well-grown shorn lambs.

Medium and trade weight crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $65-$110 and light weight 3 score crossbreds sold to processors eased $4 to $85-$112, averaging 489c/kg. Light trade weight 4 scores eased $12 to $110-$118, averaging 499c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores eased $13 to $110-$138 to average 488c/kg. Heavy weights eased $11-$16 to $120-$170, or 444-520c/kg. Extra heavy weights sold at $165. Restockers paid $60-$94 for light weight Merinos to feed on. Processors bought light weights lambs for $70-$100, or 467c/kg. Trade weight Merinos eased $2 to $100-$127 to average 439c/kg, and heavy weights eased $8 to $126-$143, or 459-466c/kg.

The mixed quality sheep yarding was mainly ewes. Demand from the usual processors was weaker than last week. Light weight 2 score ewes sold from $45-$68 to average 212c/kg. Heavy weight 3 score Merino ewes were plentiful and eased $9 to $75-$98, averaging 258c/kg. Wethers were scarce and the few heavy weights sold from $90-$108 to average 314c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from 50-$80.

Naracoorte’s lamb prices ease

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1321 lambs, 873 fewer than last week, and 1166 sheep, 105 more.

The NLRS said another small field of trade and processor buyers was active, along with some restocker orders. Prices eased with the fall in numbers, with most pens showing signs of the dry conditions.

Light weight lambs sold mainly from $62-$100. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score types made $99-$102 and Merinos in these categories sold from $57-$106. Restockers purchased a wide range of lambs from $43-$109.

Trade weight 3 score lambs eased up to $7 to $99-$122, averaging 480c/kg. The few heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $138-$141. Merino hoggets ranged from $65-$90, with crossbred types ranging from $87-$101. A number of pens of mainly Merino wethers sold from $61-$105. Light weight ewes made $42-$52 and medium types sold from $65-$72, or an average of 290c/kg. Heavy ewes ranged from $72-$100, with all ewes $5-$8 easier in price. Rams sold from $48-$72.

Muchea bidding selective

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6516 lambs, 572 fewer than last week, and 6582 sheep, 182 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with some good heavy and trade lambs available and large supplies of secondary and light lambs suited to air freight processors and restockers. Competition from the full field of buyers was more selective, resulting in a very erratic market.

Trade and heavy lamb prices eased, but rates for better light lambs lifted. Light store lambs made $5-$65 and Merino drafts made $30-$47, equal to last week. Light lambs sold to processors and restockers made $62-$99 and were mostly firm to $4 dearer. Trade lamb eased by close to $6 to $82-$114, or close to 480c/kg. Heavy lamb sold from $104-$122, or close to 470c/kg, also back close to $6.

Mutton supplies were similar in quality with some good drafts along with solid supplies of light weight and conditioned ewes.  Mutton overall was easier with export wethers and rams firm. Ewe prices varied across most categories, the light weight ewes making $5-$55, back more than $5. Medium weight 2 score ewes sold firm to processors at $40-$62. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes sold from $55-$78 with most sales easier. Restockers were less active, with purchases across all categories ranging from $15 up to $73 for better ewes carrying a $18 skin. Wethers sold for live export at $72-$115 to remain close to firm. Restockers and feeders generally paid $62-$90 for wethers, but up to $110 for longer wool drafts. Ram lambs sold to $95, with live export drafts making $40-$82. Old rams sold from $10-$35.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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