Lamb prices firm to easier – is a correction coming?

Terry Sim, November 4, 2016
Mark Rayner left and Roger Rayner of Willowview, Yass, with Phill and Lucas Butt from Butt Livestock Property sold 100 crossbred suckers to a top of 136 at the South Eastern Livestock Exchange, Yass, NSW, this week.

Mark Rayner left and Roger Rayner of Willowview, Yass, with Phill and Lucas Butt from Butt Livestock Property sold 100 crossbred suckers to a top of 136 at the South Eastern Livestock Exchange, Yass, NSW, this week.

LAMB prices started to fall in saleyards mid-week as finer weather and better physical and over-the-hook prices increased the turn-off of new season drafts in most states, but is it the start of a correction?

Trade and heavy lamb prices were most-affected by the increased supplies into saleyards and direct to abattoirs, with trade lambs making $10-$11 less than a week ago at the Wagga saleyards.

New season shorn lambs are also coming into some NSW centres in reasonable numbers to compete against woolly suckers.

The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the key Eastern States Daily Indicators for restocker, trade and heavy lambs as lower mid-week. After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the ESDIs for lambs were: restocker 616c/kg, down 4 cents; Merinos 540c/kg, up 3c; light 575c/kg, up 1c; trade 549c/kg, down 6c; heavy 539xc/kg, down 7c. The national trade lamb indicator was down 8 cents to 549c/kg and the heavy indice closed at 538c/kg, also 8 cents lower.

The ESDI and national indicator for mutton lifted slightly to finish at 359c/kg.

Shorn lambs coming in but not many yet

Riverina Livestock Agents’ Tim Drum said some shorn lambs will be marketed before Christmas “but there won’t be a heap of them”. Wagga agents yarded about 700 shorn lambs in the 33,000 offered this week.

“There’s not a heap of weight in them yet – about 22-25kg – there will be a heap around in January I think.

“They will still have feed and they’re going to have a heap of grain, it’s not worth much.”

Mr Drum said lamb producers were not panicking with the market still historically good for this time of the year.

“Even though it appears to me it is going to bottom out shortly – it was a fair bit cheaper here yesterday with a lot of lambs selling on or under 500c/kg.

“There will be a lot of heavy lambs when they do come and they won’t panic, it will be gradual, they will get them good.”

Mr Drum said demand for restocker lambs and light ‘MK’ export lambs was holding the bottom end of the market up.

“Everything makes $100 to put in the paddock nearly and yet you can still buy trade lambs for $115-$120.

“The MK lamb exporters were keeping the store blokes honest.”

Mr Drum said there not big numbers of store lambs around at the moment.

“Everybody wants more than they ever had, but you just can’t buy them – we’ve bought less than we ever had.

“The other thing about the numbers and the system up here is they will only sell them once, instead of being sold twice.”

Mr Drum said the paddock feed available it was less likely that lambs will be sold at lighter weights.

“You would be surprised how many Merino wethers lambs are already out of the system and if they are not out of the system, they need to be shorn now because the grass seed is that bad.”

These May-June drop unshorn Merino wether lambs, 16.6kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $100.50 at Broken Hill, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These May-June drop unshorn Merino wether lambs, 16.6kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $100.50 at Broken Hill, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

Carcoar’s trade lambs sell firm to $3 dearer

In New South Wales at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange at Carcoar on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7800 lambs, 3500 more than last week, and 1200 sheep, 150 more.

The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding, with a good selection of well-finished new season lambs. The quality of old lambs was fair. Not all the regular buyers attended the mostly dearer market.

Light weight lambs sold firm to $3 cheaper to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $78-$97. Trade lambs were firm to $3 dearer, with new season lines selling from $107-$144, or 560-570c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $8 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 score new season lines making $138-$157, or 570-580c/kg. Restockers paid $66-$115 and large numbers of hoggets sold to $110. Trade weight old lambs sold from $97-$135.

It was a mixed yarding of mutton and most grades were $8-$13 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $67-$72. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos sold from $75-$108 and crossbreds made to $102. Merino wethers sold to $108 and crossbred wethers made to $115.

Cootamundra market firm

At the Cootamundra saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 4500 lambs, 500 more than the last sale two weeks ago, and 2800 sheep, 650 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was good. Trade weight new season lambs were best supplied and there were reasonable numbers of heavy weights. Store lambs were limited and there were a few pens of shorn lambs. All the usual buyers were active, although slowly at first, resulting in a firm market.

Restocking lambs made $66-$112. Medium and heavy trade weights sold from $106-$130. Heavy lambs made $126-$145. Carcase prices ranged from 512-600c/kg, with an average of 550c/kg. Shorn new season lambs sold to $139.

Sheep quality was mixed. Prices lifted slightly with buyers looking for medium weight Merinos with longer wool. Medium weights sold from $70-$117. Heavy crossbred ewes made $116 and Merinos $114. Heavy wethers sold to $120.

Yass’ heavy new season lambs fall $7

At the South Eastern Livestock Exchange at Yass on Wednesday the agents yarded 16,758 sheep and lambs, including 7029 new season lambs.

Landmark agent Sam Hunter said the usual buyers attended, with the exception of one domestic processor, although not all buyers operated to full competition. A lack of weight in new season lambs resulted in varied competition from some processors.

Higher prices towards the end of last week could be a reason for the larger contingent of store lambs yarded weighing 38-45kg lwt.

Heavy new season lambs sold to $148, to average $113, $7 cheaper than the previous week. A lack of quality store lambs was evident, with local agents and re-stockers unable to fill required orders.

Once again the mutton market was the shining light, Mr Hunter said. Wethers remained firm. Merino ewe prices averaged $8 more than the previous week, and crossbred ewes averaged $12 higher. The increase in mutton prices can be attributed to the added competition from re-stockers seeking sheep to utilise the spring feed, as store lambs increase in price.

New season lambs sold to $148 and averaged $113.44. Old lambs sold to $150 and averaged $99.56. Merino made to $106 and averaged $80.54. Hoggets sold to $120 and averaged $89.25.

Wethers sold to $124.40 and averaged $89.15. Crossbred ewes sold to $145 and averaged $98.44. Merino ewes made to $115.20 and averaged $87.13.

Wagga’s trade lambs $10-$11 cheaper

At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 33,000 lambs, 6000 more than last week, and 7000 sheep, 1000 more.

The NLRS said the very good quality yarding had a reasonable number of shorn new season lambs. There were more light weight lambs; however, most were trade and heavy lambs. The usual export buyers, but fewer domestic processors, competed.

Several southern orders were absent from the trade market as more lambs are arriving in southern selling centres. New season trade lambs were well-supplied and prices struggled to gain traction.

The general run of trade lambs sold $10-$11 cheaper to average 524c/kg. Store lambs were keenly contested, with the lighter weights making $99-$117. Lambs suitable to feed on averaged $116.60. Heavy new season lambs were well-supplied and sold from $139-$157.20 to average 545c/kg. Extra heavy lambs sold to subdued bidding at $150-$166.

The very good quality offering of mutton had good numbers of heavy ewes. All sheep sold to weaker bidding, with prices slipping $4-$5. Heavy crossbred ewes made from $97-$118. Medium and heavy Merino sheep sold for $67-$115.

Horsham trade and heavy lambs cheaper

In Victoria at the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 15,956 lambs, 4910 more than last week, and 2201 sheep, 1912 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said lamb quality was good to very good. Most lambs displayed good finish and plenty of weight. The usual buyers attended and operated in the firm to easier market.

Lighter lambs sold close to unchanged, but trade weights were $2-$3 easier and the heavy lambs selling firm to $4 cheaper. The best heavy lambs sold to $175 and the heavier trade weights made $128-$142, averaging around 540c/kg. Restockers from local and Mallee areas paid mostly $88-$111.50.

Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $88-$97. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $97-$123.50 and averaged around 560c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $117-$127. The heavier weights made $128-$142, or 510-580c/kg, to average around 540c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $141-$170 and extra heavy export lines made $175. Young Merino lambs sold from $126-$144. The best of the limited number of old lambs made $115-$128 and heavy hoggets sold to $116.

The sheep included all weights and grades, and sold to keen competition. Prices were similar to last week, although heavier sheep sold $2-$5 dearer in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $67-$85. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $75-$100.50, or 330-410c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 390c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes made from $89-$116 with heavy Merino wethers selling from $112-$119. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $93-$116, and heavy Merino rams made-$100.

Hamilton’s trade lambs $3-$5 cheaper

At the Hamilton saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2561 lambs, 1166 more than last week, and 3901 sheep, 383 more.

The NLRS said more new season lambs were offered at Hamilton and quality was average to good. The regular buyers attended, less one Victorian processor and plus an extra interstate export buyer.

Prices for light weight lambs were equal, while the heavy trade and medium trade weights sold $3-$5 cheaper.

New season light trade lambs made $101-$106. Medium trade weight 2 and 3 score new season lambs sold from $106- $124 and heavier drafts made $120-$142, or 487-554c/kg, to average 530c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs made $140-$172 and averaged an estimated 528c/kg. Only a few old lambs were offered and the best quality made $99-$102. Heavy 3 score hoggets made $86-$102.

Local restockers paid $86-$114 for young lambs, $86-$94 for old lambs, $83 for Merino lambs and $87 for a pen of well-bred young Merino wethers.

Mutton prices were generally back $5-$10.  The sheep yarding included some average to good lines of Merinos and crossbreds. Fewer light sheep were penned. Local restockers bought first cross ewes for $78-$107 and Merino wethers for $84-$91.

Light weight 1 and 2 score mutton sheep sold from $54-$69 and the extra light weights made $40-$55. Medium trade weight 2-3 score sheep sold from $70-$87, or 280-360c/kg. Merino ewe mutton averaged around 340c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes 3 and 4 scores sold from $84-$102, averaging 300c/kg. Well-covered 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $86-$110 at 365c/kg. Heavy rams of all breeds sold from $62-$93.

Ouyen lambs firm

The Landmark team selling lambs at Ouyen this week.

The Landmark team selling lambs at Ouyen this week.

At the Ouyen Livestock Exchange on Thursday, the agents yarded 5800 new season lambs, 2837 old lambs and 3198 sheep for its last sale this year.

Prices for lambs were quoted as firm on all weights and grades.

New season export weight crossbred lambs sold from $122-$149, or 490-520c/kg, and trade lambs made $100-$130.

Light Dorper sucker lambs made $108-$123, or 520-550c/kg, and heavy lines sold from $121-$135, or 500-530c/kg.

Light sheep sold from $78-$100, or 280-320c/kg, and the heavy sheep made $97-$116, or 280-320c/kg.

Mt Gambier lamb prices firm

In South Australia at the Mt Gambier saleyards, the agents yarded 5650 lambs, 2318 more than last week, and 212 sheep, 135 more.

The NLRS said a large field of trade and processor buyers competed strongly for supply with fewer restockers. Lamb quality was very good with a large number of heavy lambs and a line of shorn well-presented crossbred wether lambs which sold very well.

Lamb prices held firm. Light weight lambs sold to $98 to the trade, and light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made to $107. Restockers paid mainly $101-$112. The shorn wether lambs sold from $101-$124. Trade weight 3 score lambs made $107-$122. Most of the heavy lambs had good weight, condition and good quality skins, and made from $134 up to $174 for a pen estimated at 32kgs cwt with a $10 skin. Old lambs sold to $114.

Medium weight ewes sold to $76. Heavy ewes sold from $95-$116. Rams sold to restockers for up to $104.

Katanning mutton prices up by $10

In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7000 lambs, 1999 more than last week, and 7309 sheep, 1309 more.

The NLRS said it was mainly a good quality sheep and lamb offering. All the usual buyers attended and graziers bought store lambs and restocker ewes.

Extra heavy weight lambs sold to $117. New season light weight lambs made $65-$84. Lambs suitable for air freight made $70-$95 and trade lambs sold from $85-$94. Heavy lambs sold from $109-$114 and extra heavy lambs made $115-$117. Feeder buyers paid from $47 for very light lambs up to $114 for heavy drafts.

Young blue tag ewes sold from $46 for plain types up to $117 for better quality lines. Mutton prices lifted by up to $10 for medium weight ewes to $71-$78. Prime three and four score Merino ewes with a fleece sold from $65-$110. Store ewes sold very strongly for $58-$78.

Wethers sold mainly to restockers and feeder buyers for $40 for the very light plain wethers and up to $111 for large frame types. Ram lambs sold from $35-$97 depending on size and older rams made $5-$59.

Warwick lambs sell to $159

At the Warwick saleyards in Queensland on Wednesday, the agents yarded Warwick Selling Agents yarded 1623 lambs and hoggets, and 803 sheep.

The market was quoted firm to a shade easier for all descriptions in the larger yarding of sheep and lambs. The top-priced 63.5kg lwt lambs made $159 for Clifton producers S.C and P Barkla.

Crossbred lambs 51-55kg lwt, sold from $132-$143, the 46-50kg lambs made $130-$147, 41-45kg lambs sold for $122-$133 and 35-40kg lines sold from $108-$124.

Shorn crossbred hoggets 66.7kg lwt sold to $107. Trade wethers with $6 skins made to $116, or 370c/kg cwt, and light wethers with $5 skins sold to $71, or 255c/kg.

Heavy crossbred ewes with $8 skins made to $101, or 320c/kg, and light ewes with $6 skins sold to $55, or 215c/kg.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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