Domestic Lamb

Lamb prices firm as search for quality without seed in skins continues

Sheep Central, December 1, 2014

Lambs - saleyards 3Prices for lambs firmed in saleyards late last week as buyers searched for finish and yield among limited supplies of quality trade and heavy lines.

After Friday’s sales, The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator as finishing up three cents on 482c/kg and the heavy lamb indicator closed on 487c/kg, up three cents.

Nationally, the main lamb indicators were at 482 c/kg cwt for trade lambs (up two cents) and at 488c/kg cwt for heavy lambs, up four cents. The national mutton indicator was at 293c/kg, up one cent.

In the eastern states, the biggest movers during the week were Merino lambs, which improved 27c/kg and heavy lambs, which lifted 21c/kg. The ES lamb indicators on Friday were: restocker, 485c/kg cwt, up 1 cent; Merino 415c/kg, up 8c; light 448c/kg, up 1c; trade 482c/kg, up 3; heavy 487c/kg, up 3c.

Mutton prices firmed on Friday and the ES Mutton Indicator closed on 294c/kg, up one cent.

AuctionsPlus numbers lift

The number of sheep and lambs offered on AuctionsPlus last week increased 6359 to 47,115 head, an increase of 6359 on the previous week.

AuctionsPlus market operations supervisor Anna Adams said moderate rain falls in some areas of the eastern seaboard aided the marketplace last week.

Merino ewes showed some recovery this week after a steady decline over the last month, she said. Unjoined ewe hoggets sold from $61.50-$141, and a line of 15-month-olds joined to White Suffolk sold for $166. Proven breeders aged between three and five years sold from $81-$93.50.

First cross ewe prices remained high, underpinned by projected increasing export demand for lamb. Ewe lambs made $118-$157, and young unjoined ewes made $128 to a top of $178 for 16-month-olds in southern NSW.

Ms Adams said continuing big numbers of store lambs attracted plenty of competition, with first and second cross lamb prices firming $2-$4 across the board. The 29kg liveweight lambs offered made $71.50-$77.50, and the 31-32kg lines sold for $63.50-$80. The 33-34kg liveweight lambs offered sold from $74-$84.50 and the 35-36kg drafts made $71.50-$86.50. The heaviest lambs offered at 38kg-40kg liveweight made $85.50-$91.50, she said.

On a carcase weight basis, lambs estimated to dress 16-18kg selling to backgrounders averaged 529c/kg cwt, while restockers paid more than 600c/kg for several lines that would dress at 12-14kg. With big numbers of lighter unfinished lambs currently in the marketplace, those fortunate enough to have feed can take advantage of projected shortages of heavy lambs mid-next year, Ms Adams said.

Strong competition at Cowra

In the Cowra saleyards last Friday, the agents yarded 7790 lambs, 1660 fewer than last week, and 1490 sheep, 1210 less.

The NLRS said quality was good for the shorn and heavy new season lambs. There were a few plain drier lambs and mainly trade and heavy weights were penned. Fewer store lambs were offered and all the buyers operated, except one. Competition was strong, resulting in a dearer market across all grades.

Light lambs to the processors averaged $90, while store lambs sold from $49-$98, up $4. Medium and heavy trade new season lambs were $5-$6 dearer and averaged from 489c/kg-505c/kg cwt. Most of the quality heavy trade weight lambs sold from $107-$116. Heavy weight new season lambs were $8-$10 dearer and averaged around 495c/kg cwt.

A pen of extra heavy new season lambs topped at $148.50, with an estimated carcase weight of 30kg.

Mutton quality was generally good. Heavy first cross ewes sold $10 dearer and averaged from $83-$90.50, or 285c/kg-300c/kg cwt. Heavy wethers sold to $103.

Old lambs lift $15 at Griffith

In the Griffith saleyards last Friday, the agents yarded 2886 lambs, 468 fewer than last week, and 1545 sheep, 575 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality continued to be mixed, with well-finished and plainer lambs penned. There were more shorn lambs yarded. Heavy and extra heavy lambs made up the majority of the yarding. There was an extra buyer present and competing in a significantly dearer market.

New season lambs lifted $8-$10. Trade weights sold from $115-$118, with heavy weights reaching $134. Old lambs jumped $15 and more in places. Light lambs sold from $100-$110. Trade weight lambs received from $104-$115. Heavy lambs ranged in price from $123-$138, while extra heavy weights sold from $136 to a top of $160. Carcase prices averaged from 509c/kg-538c/kg cwt.

Mutton quality was again very mixed, with Merinos making up the majority. Prices were cheaper with Merino ewes selling from $70-$94. Crossbreds ranged from $72-$84. Merino wethers sold from $74-$94

Best lambs dearer but more seed-affected lines at Shepparton

In Victoria in the Shepparton saleyards last Friday, the agents yarded 2359 lambs, 2941 fewer than last week, and 1865 sheep, 875 more.

The NLRS said with the drop in supply came a much plainer yarding compared to last week. There was also fewer buyers, with some of the regular export and domestic orders not operating. Most lambs presented with drier and seed-affected skins and buyers were generally working on reduced skin returns. The market fluctuated on quality, however the better drafts of young lambs were a few dollars dearer in places. The market reached a top of $130 for a line of young lambs estimated to have a carcase weight of about 26kg cwt. There were only four sales over $120, reflecting the lack of weight in the yarding overall.

Light lambs were supported by local restockers and meat buyers with most sales from $75-$90 and plainer and very small lambs from $50-$70. Most of the better quality young lambs suitable for domestic slaughter orders sold from $104-$118, at estimated averages of 460c/kg-480c/g cwt with odd sales out to 490c/kg-500c/kg cwt. Some of the higher carcase prices were paid for recently shorn young lambs, however these were in limited supply.

The sheep market regained the previous week’s losses of $5-$10. Heavy first-cross ewes sold from $72-$85, while the best pens of Merino ewes made $74-$85. The general run of mutton was estimated at 260c/kg-280c/kg cwt, with odd sales out to 300c/kg cwt at times.

Source: NLRS, AuctionsPlus.

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