LAMB prices hit record levels at Hamilton in Victoria this week as the competition for quality domestic and export weight lambs intensified.
On Wednesday, LMB Linke auctioneer Bernie Grant sold 36 June-drop Poll Dorset cross lambs from the Foster family’s Haven Park sold for $245, a Hamilton record and believed to be the highest price for spring lambs in Victoria this year.
The lambs bought by the Australian Lamb Company at Colac were estimated to have a carcase weight of 35kg, which with a $13 skin, valued them at about 660c/kg cwt.
Agents said the market is being driven by keen exporter demand for heavy and light lambs, and strong restocker demand based on forward contract prices and rising spot rates of 650-680c/kg for trade and heavy lambs from processors.
Mr Grant said the lamb market had probably reached its peak, but the current rates augured well for prices in the New Year.
“It will probably follow on into the early sales in January pretty well.”
Hamilton Stock Agents Association president Heath Templeton said at the moment all hook prices are above 650c/kg within a tradeweight range of 18-26kg and 18-32kg for export lambs.
“It’s just supply and demand; there is not enough supply to meet the demand for kill lambs at the moment.
“I think it will open up very dear in the New Year — our Monday sale next week will be pretty good and after that it will be exceptional,” he said.
“We are in unprecedented waters and I don’t think anyone has ever seen prices like this so I couldn’t pretend to have a crystal ball and know what is going to happen, but it is very good for everyone at the moment.”
The National Livestock Reporting Service said quality was mixed in the yarding of 54,829 lambs, 24,218 more than the previous Monday sale, with some very good to average lambs in larger lines of all grades and weights.
Many plainer and well-bred store lambs were also offered to the largest buying field for the year with extra processors and restockers attending.
The NLRS said demand remained very strong and prices continued mostly a dearer trend with heavy lambs finishing $10-$15 higher. Heavy trade weights sold $6 higher, medium trade weights were $3 dearer and light lambs sold from firm to $2 dearer. Some very light lambs were up to $5/head better with store buyers and processors intent on filling their orders. All comparisons are made with Monday’s lamb market with 20 pens in the yarding selling between $200 and $245/head.
Restockers from the Northern Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales purchased throughout the market, with store lambs making $112-$137. Lighter lots sold from $34-$89.
The NLRS said light weight 2 score lambs sold to processors for $103-$120, light trade weights 2 and 3 scores made $118-$136 to average 670c/kg. Medium trade weight lambs 2 and 3 scores made $127-$153 to average 680c/kg. Medium trade weight 3 scores with more cover sold from $142-$170 and heavy trade weight lambs 3 and 4 scores made $158-$184, averaging an estimated 685-690c/kg.
Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs at Hamilton sold from $166-$197 to average close to 687c/kg. Heavy export 4 score lambs made $194-$245, averaging costs close to 680c/kg.