Lamb prices hit $320 at Griffith, $315 at Wagga Wagga

Terry Sim, May 24, 2019

Elders auctioneer Joe Wilks, right, with Kathryn Moss and the Nisbitt family’s $315 lambs at Wagga.

LAMB and mutton prices continued to rise later this week as processors reportedly considered limiting slaughter targets in coming weeks to match expected supplies and price levels.

Although processors have been reluctant to confirm shift plans, Sheep Central has had reports of domestic and export processors planning to remove days from their slaughtering programs as supplies tightened and saleyard prices continued to increase.

In New South Wales at the Wagga saleyards yesterday, the National Livestock Reporting Service said tightening supplies of heavy lambs strengthened competition, pushing prices $16-$18 higher. Generally, heavy lambs of 24-26kg cwt made from $217-$248. Most of the extra heavy lambs sold from $234 up to $315 for two lines, to range from 830-859c/kg cwt.

Elders and RLA sell $315 lambs at Wagga

Elders at Wagga sold 91 extra heavy Poll Dorset cross lambs for $315 from the Nisbitt family of Kamarah to Wagstaff. The lambs had an average liveweight of 88kg the day before the sale, an estimated carcase weight of 41kg and a skin value of $7-$10.

Ralph Nisbitt said the lambs were bought in Wagga last November for $123.60 and the estimated return after costs was about $64. The lambs were out of Gleneith Superborders by Armdale rams.

Elders Wagga auctioneer Joe Wilks said supply is the main driver of the market, back by strong demand, but the recent yardings at Wagga have been supported by traded lambs returning to saleyards.

“There has been an abundance of numbers, every week we’ve yarded 30,000, it’s not like we’ve had a couple of slow weeks and they’re catching up … so the demand at the other end obviously is still there.”

He said 38kg lwt feeder lambs were making $160 and store lambs were making $120-$130.

Mr Wilks said he was not worried about prices in coming weeks and the likely impact of supply on processor demand.

“But I’m starting to get cautious, because I hate greed – this money is astronomical and for people to hold off because they know it is going to get dearer I think is crazy.

“My feeling is we’ve still got more upside to come but when that day comes to pull it back, I think it will be a very sharp pull-back, it won’t be $5 cheaper this week, it will be $20 or $30 cheaper,” he said.

“I’m encouraging my blokes to take this good money if their lambs are ready to go.”

Riverina Livestock Agents’ Tim Drum said the agency sold 230 Poll Dorset cross lambs for the Brunsdon Pastoral Company for $315. They were estimated to have a carcase weight of 40kg with an $8 skin. He expected Wagga’s lamb yarding to decline in coming weeks.

The NLRS said Wagga agents yarded 34,000 lambs yesterday, 1000 more than last week and 10,000 sheep, 2000 more.

Good quality trade lambs were dearer, while the secondary shorn portion sold mainly to feedlots at slightly higher price levels. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were a feature of the sale, with bidding intensifying for all weight categories. Restockers activity strengthened, with some potential buyers leaving the sale empty handed due to the dearer trends. Light weight MK bag lambs sold to fluctuating price trends, with most of the competition driven by feedlot and restocker demand.

The NLRS said price gains were recorded for both medium and heavy trade weight categories, with the 22-24kg lambs increasing $18 to average 872c/kg. Light and medium trade weights averaged from 817-855c/kg. Restockers frequently clashed with feedlots and processors to secure later drop lambs. Store lambs with frame made from $130-$178. Shorn lambs suitable to feed on commanded premium prices, making from $143-$179. Light weight export lambs sold from $105-$162.

It was another good sized yarding of mutton, with medium and heavy sheep well supplied. Heavy crossbred ewes sold up to $24 dearer, making from $170 to $268/head, averaging 662c/kg cwt. Heavy wethers were in greater numbers, with the supplementary fed portion recording a top price of $263/head to average 777c/kg cwt. Trade sheep were keenly sought by all processors, making from $120 to $165/head, averaging from 580c to 621c/kg cwt.

Griffith lambs sell to $320

Griffith agent Mark Flagg said most lambs at Griffith were $10-$15 dearer and sheep were also dearer. He sold a line of 330 January shorn rising six year-old Merino ewes that had been recently weaned of their lambs that made up to $245 and averaged $225.

At the Griffith saleyards today, the NLRS said heavy lamb prices increased $9 to $216-$236 and the extra heavy export lambs lifted $3 to $231-$253. The over 30kg cwt lambs weighing close to 40kg averaged 797c/kg cwt and sold from $255 up to $320 for a line of 46 lambs from Spencer and Bennett-Yenda Producers client Mark Tabain estimated at 42kg cwt. The buyer was JBS Australia. The second line of 59 Tabain lambs sold for $318.60.

He said agencies 4000 lambs and sheep averaged $227, taking into account eight lines of lambs over $300 and 40 over $200.

“That’s unheard of.”

The NLRS said Griffith agents yarded 7086 lambs, 817 more than last week, and 1519 sheep, 128 more. There was another good offering of supplementary fed lambs, particularly in the over heavy and extra heavy categories. Buyers were prepared to go that extra mile as numbers tighten up across the supply area.

All regular processors were present and some strong competition resulted in price lifts across most categories. Trade lambs were well supplied, lifting $4-$6, with the light and medium trade making from $158 to $203, while the heavy trade received from $206 to $221/head reaching up to 917c/kg cwt. Light weight lambs weighing 12-18kg going to the processors received from $155 to $162. Feeder lambs were few making from $140 to $160. Competition strengthened across the heavy and extra heavy lambs suiting the export and domestic processors as this article is becoming scarce.

A good mix of light and heavy mutton was offered and sold in a strong market. Medium weight 2 and 3 score ewes made from $96 to $148. The best of the Merino 4 score ewes reached $272 and heavy crossbred ewes sold from $170 to $220.


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