Lamb and mutton prices mostly held firm to dearer in eastern states saleyards last Friday.
Despite the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, prices for lambs and sheep consolidated the big weekly gains in most categories.
After the completion of Friday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Market Reporting Service quoted its Eastern States Daily Indicator for trade lambs as up two cents to 588c/kg, finishing off a weekly gain of 12 cents. The ESDI for heavy lambs was down one cent to 593c/kg, for a weekly rise of nine cents. The national ESDI for trade lambs is at 589c/kg, up two cents and the heavy lamb indice is firm at 594c/kg.
However, the biggest weekly gains were seen in the restocker, Merino and light slaughter lamb categories. The daily and weekly changes in the other lamb ESDIs are: restocker 590c/kg, up 4 cents daily, up 48 cents for the week; Merino 549c/kg, up 1c, up 20c; light 568c/kg, down 1c, up 28c.
The ESDI and national indicators for mutton closed on 400c/kg, up one cent to finish off with a 26-cent lift in the east.
Woolly sheep popular on AuctionsPlus
AuctionsPlus market operations officer Anna Adams said sheep numbers dipped slightly last week to just over 39,000 head.
“However, as the wool market continued to break records, there was a significant trend with full wool Merino sheep offered this week.”
Proven joined and scanned-in-lamb Merino breeders with 6-7.5cm fleeces offered last week made $125-$140, averaging $134, she said. The top-priced lot was a line of 3 and 4-year-old 50kg lwt ewes carrying more than 7.5cm of wool and joined to Border Leicester rams from Crookwell NSW. Last season these ewes cut 6-7kgs of wool at 18.5µ micron, which on the current clean price of 1579c yielding 70pc, would mean a gross return, notwithstanding shearing costs, of $72 a head, Ms Adams said.
Aged Merino ewes made $116.50-$120 and averaged $118 on AuctionsPlus last week. Merino wether prices firmed, with lambs making $49-$58, while grown wethers and hoggets sold for $40.50-$80. The top-priced lot were 37kg lwt Centreplus blood hoggets, with a 6cm fleece from Boorowa, NSW.
Ms Adams said first cross ewe lambs continued to attract a premium for sellers, making $120-$165. Ewe hoggets scanned in lamb (SIL) to Poll Dorset and White Suffolk rams ranged $175-$192. Mixed age ewes averaged $191, with 70kg lwt 4-6 year-old ewes SIL to Poll Dorsets from Dubbo NSW topping the sale at $196.
Prices firmed for the small offering of store lambs, with lines weighing 36-38kg making $90-$129.50 and averaging $108 or 647c/kg cwt. The heaviest lambs offered weighed 42-44kg lwt and made $111-$121.50, averaging $116 or 596c/kg. The first offering of new season sucker lambs was sold last week — a line of 22kg Poll Dorset/Merino mixed sex lambs from Cootamundra NSW that made $75.
Griffith trade lambs up $2, extra heavies down $4
In NSW at the Griffith saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 13,250 lambs, 6700 more than last week, and 2950 sheep, 2500 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed though slightly improved on last week. There were good numbers of well-finished and grain-assisted lambs along with the plainer types. Most of the yarding was heavy and extra heavyweight lambs. The usual buyers competed in a fairly steady market.
Light lambs sold from $99-$114. Trade weights held firm to $2 dearer, with prices ranging from $113-$148. Heavy lambs sold steady from $149-$160. Extra heavyweights eased $4 to make from $156-$208. Carcase prices ranged from 580-624c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $114-$167.
The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality continued to be mixed. Prices jumped with medium and heavyweight Merino ewes selling from $84-$154. Crossbred ewes ranged from $94-$133 and Dorper ewes sold from $80-$135. Merino wethers made from $91-$145.
Cowra’s heavy lambs $5-$10 cheaper
At the Cowra saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 4700 lambs, 200 more than last week, and 1450 sheep, 750 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the extra heavy lambs was very good, but mixed throughout the other grades. Mainly trade and heavy weight lambs were offered, along with an increased supply of stores. All the buyers operated except one and competition was softer, resulting in an easier market.
Light lambs to the processors averaged $98, while store lambs averaged $92, up $10. Medium and heavy trade weight lambs were $1-$3 cheaper and ranged from 566-581c/kg cwt. The heavy trade weight lambs sold from $125-$139. Heavy weight lambs were $5-$10 cheaper and ranged from 560-581c/kg. A few pens of extra heavy weight lambs sold from $186-$194 and all had estimated carcase weights of 31kg-plus.
Mutton quality varied. Young first cross ewes sold to local restockers from $137-$146. Heavy first cross ewes were $5 dearer and averaged $122.50 or 372-418c/kg cwt. Medium weight wethers averaged $113 or 432c/kg.
Shepparton’s best heavy lambs sell firm to dearer
In Victoria at the Shepparton saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 1103 lambs, 777 fewer than last week, and 571 sheep, 79 less.
The NLRS said only a few meat companies followed the sale as lamb and sheep numbers eased before the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Apart from a few pens of heavier lambs, quality was generally very plain and comprised mostly lighter weight slaughter types of mixed breeding. The market for heavier lambs displaying reasonable finish was firm to dearer, while the lighter and plainer conditioned lambs were generally cheaper amid limited processor competition.
Prices reached a top of $181 for a pen of heavy export lambs. At the top end of the market about 10 pens of heavy lambs above 25kg cwt sold from $158-$181, ranging from an estimated 570-600c/kg cwt. The remaindered of the yarding was of secondary quality, with only a few pens of domestic lambs making above $120 and the majority of sales at $85-$112. Carcase rates on these plainer bred and finished lambs varied according to quality. Pens of very light weight and small lambs sold from $20-$68.
The line-up of mutton was very limited and prices fluctuated. A few pens of heavy crossbred sheep sold from $102-$115, while medium mutton made $75-$100 and light types sold from $25-$55.
Sources: NLRS, AuctionsPlus.