Quality trade and heavy lamb prices generally improved in saleyards early this week, despite several export processors reporting reductions in their intended weekly supply requirements.
Trade lamb demand was stronger and some domestic buyers purchasing heavier lambs to access quality and finish helped heavy weight rates.
Quality medium to heavy trade lambs and heavy weights sold from 567-626c/kg cwt at Forbes and 550-610c/kg at Ballarat, and generally averaging from 540-570c/kg in other centres.
Mutton rates weakened significantly after this week’s closure of major mutton buyer Fletcher International’s plant at Dubbo for two weeks.
Supply will be the issue
Landmark national livestock manager Mark Barton believed there were not sufficient supplies of quality slaughter lambs available for prices to come back going into winter, despite export processors cutting kills and closing plants.
“I just think supply is going to be the issue – if you have got them you are going to get paid for them this year.
“But you don’t want either party having the boot on and putting the slipper in,” he said.
“Though it is also about getting kill space at this time of the year.”
NLRS lamb indicators close firm to dearer
The National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb closed in firm or positive territory for all categories after Tuesday’s saleyard sales. The lamb ESDIs are: restocker, 552c/kg, no change; Merino, 503c/kg, up 5 cents; light, 534c/kg, up 2 cents; trade, 563c/kg, up 8 cents; heavy, 563c/kg, up 6 cents. The national trade lamb indicator closed up 7 cents to 564c/kg and the heavy lamb indice is at 564c/kg, also up 7 cents.
The ESDI for mutton closed on 371c/kg, down 8 cents, and the national indicator is at 370c/kg, down 9 cents.
Over the hook trade lamb rates firm to dearer
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates this week held firm across all categories. Mutton rates eased slightly. However, many contributors are taking a wait-and-see approach after last week’s dearer saleyard prices.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 510-570c/kg, no change; 20-22kg, 520-570c/kg, nc; 22-24kg, 500-570c/kg, down 7 cents; 24-26kg+, 500-550c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 450-530c/kg, nc. The 2-3 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 260-330c/kg, down 5c; 18-24kg, 290-370c/kg, down 3c; 24kg+, 320-370c/kg, down 3c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said there were some upward adjustments to lamb over-the-hook rates this week, with light and trade weight categories making the most gains. Mutton rates were mostly firm.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 560c/kg, up 10c; 18-22kg, 560-570c/kg, up 8c; 22-24kg, 560-570c/kg, up 3c; 24-26kg, 530-560c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 530c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 300-360c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 320-370c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 320-350c/kg, down 3c.
In SA, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight over-the-hook lamb rates edged higher this week, while light weight and Merino lamb rates remained unchanged. Mutton rates were 8c/kg cwt higher on average across all categories.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 540-570c/kg, up 3c; 24-26kg+, 530-5540c/kg, up 3c; Merinos 16-22kg, 520c/kg, nc. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 260-320c/kg, up 8c; 18-24kg+, 320-380c/kg, up 8c.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook lamb and sheep rates as unchanged. The OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 470-490c/kg; 16-18k, 480-520c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-540c/kg; 22-26kg, 520-540c/kg; 26kg+, 520-530c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 280-320c/kg; 14-18kg, 300-340c/kg; 18-24kg, 320-340c/kg.
Western Australia’s over-the-hook rates for the week were not available when this report was published.
Heavy lambs $5-$8 dearer in Dubbo
In NSW on Monday, at the Dubbo saleyards, the agents yarded 11,550 lambs, 4330 fewer than last week, and 3670 sheep, 5030 more.
The NLRS said it was a very mixed yarding of lambs, with a reasonable selection of trade and heavy weights along with a large percentage of Merino lambs and Dorpers. Light weight lambs sold $8-$10 dearer and the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores made $79-$105. Trade lambs were $2-$4 dearer, with the 18-22kg 3 scores selling from $96-$134, to average 570c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $5-$8 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $125-$198.60 to average 558c/kg cwt. Merino lambs were around firm, with the trade weights selling from $90-$117 and the heavier weights to $125. Crossbred lambs sold to the restockers for $51-$112 and hoggets sold to $117.
It was a mixed quality yarding of mutton. Light weight sheep were $5 cheaper, while the better medium and heavier weights were up to $12 easier. The 2 score ewes sold from $35-$76, while the better medium and heavy weight crossbred and Merinos sold from $70-$120. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $84-$110.
Tamworth trade and heavy lambs $5-$6 dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 1250 lambs, 2000 fewer than last week, and 1030 sheep, 70 more.
The NLRS said the quality of the lamb offering was fair to good with good supplies of medium and heavyweights, and of lambs suitable for restockers. A full field of buyers operated. Market trends were generally firm to dearer for lambs, with strong demand for all weights.
Light and medium weight trade lambs remained firm. Heavy trade lambs sold up to $5 dearer. Heavyweight lambs, 24-26kg cwt, were up to $6 dearer and also attracted domestic trade competition. Prices for the heaviest lambs remained firm.
The quality of the sheep offering was only fair with limited numbers of well-finished heavy weights available. The market remained close to firm with quality variations impacting on some price changes.
Forbes’ trade lambs $5-$7 dearer
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,000 lambs, 1974 fewer than last week, and 6120 sheep, 3605 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained similar to previous sales, with good numbers of well-finished lambs and plainer types. The usual buyers competed with restockers in a dearer market.
Light lambs sold from $93-$107. Trade weights were $5-$7 dearer, from $109-$145. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were $6-$8 dearer and more in places. Heavy lambs sold from $135-$160 and extra heavy weights made $147-$200. Carcase prices ranged from 567-626c/kg cwt.
Mutton quality was very mixed. Most of the sheep were Merino ewes that sold from $76-$113. Crossbreds sold from $75-$118. Heavy Dorper ewes averaged $108.
Bendigo’s heavy lambs lift $2-$6
In Victoria, at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 11,347 lambs, 256 more than last week, and 5137 sheep, 735 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality generally declined, with fewer well-finished trade and export weight lambs. Prices continued to fluctuate with quality a factor in some results.
The market reached a top of $179 for extra heavy export lambs, but there was little price movement in this category with odd pens weaker at times. The market improved $2-$6 for 24-26kg cwt lambs, as some of the major domestic buyers pushed into heavier weights to access more quality and finish.
Light weight lambs were of a plainer standard this week and the secondary types dragged down price averages. Select pens that suited MK export orders still sold strongly at more than $90. There was a bigger line-up of Merino lambs and the better-covered types were dearer at $93-$120. The general run of trade weight lambs sold from $106-$125, to be firm to a few dollars dearer in places. Bidding for the lead runs of 24-26kg cwt lambs was boosted by domestic competition as some of the major buyers pushed into heavier weights, with most sales from $135-$149. Demand for export weight lambs was patchy despite the limited numbers on offer and several pens of extra heavy weights sold from $165-$179.
Not all the usual processors operated on the sheep offering and prices trended lower. Lightweight sheep were most affected by the weaker demand. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $102-128 and Merino wethers in a big skin sold to $122.
Ballarat lambs $2-$7 dearer
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 28,990 lambs, 704 more than last week, and 8849 sheep, 3447 fewer.
The NLRS said the quality of trade weight and heavy lambs was good, with extra heavy lambs making $190. Most lambs sold $2-$7 dearer than last week, with the better presented heavier trade weight lambs attracting very keen competition. Heavier Merino lambs sold from $110-$125. Restockers and feeders paid mostly from $95-$120. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $73-$105. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $109-$129. Medium weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $123-$132 and the heavier drafts made $125-$148, to range from 550-610c/kg and average around 570c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $138-$177 and averaged around 555c/kg cwt. Extra heavy export lambs sold from $178-$190.
The sheep contained all weights and grades, with big numbers of lighter sheep. Not all buyers operating fully and most sheep sold to a cheaper trend, except the better end of the Merino wethers which sold close to firm because of an extra order. Medium and heavy sheep sold generally to $10 easier and more in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $46-$80. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $63-$114, ranging from 300-400c/kg cwt to average around 360c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $84-$130 and the heavy Merino wethers made $94-$130. The medium weights made $66-$110, or from 380-400c/kg.
Dublin’s trade lambs lift $4-$8
At Dublin’s SA Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 11824 lambs, 824 more than last week, and 1313 sheep, 65 less.
The NLRS said the yarding crossbred and Merino lambs failed to match the quality of last week’s offering, but sold to solid competition from the usual buyers and one new Victorian operator. There was limited feeder competition and restockers operated keenly on light weight Merinos.
Trade buyers paid $98-$110, $4 more, for light weight 3 score crossbred lambs. These averaged 507c/kg cwt. The light trade weight 3 scores were in demand and lifted $2, selling from $105-$125, to average 501c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores lifted $8, selling from $120-$145 and averaging 546c/kg. Heavy weights eased $7, to $140-$160 or 519-544c/kg. Extreme heavy weights sold from $170-$178. Restockers paid $18-$45 for very light weight Merino lambs and$26-$68 for light weights. Trade weight 3 score Merinos lifted $3-$5, selling from $94-$115 or 475-479c/kg. Heavy weight Merino lambs remained unchanged, selling from $115-$128, to average 458c/kg. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $94-$125 and crossbreds made $96-$117.
The mixed quality sheep sold to strong bidding from a larger group of trade and processor buyers. Light weight 2 score ewes lifted $11, selling from $55-$90 to average 313c. The heavy weight 3 score ewes lifted $7, making from $94-$118 and averaging 347c/kg. Heavy weight wethers were scarce and lifted as much as $19, selling from $111-$122, to average 378c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $90-$110.
Naracoorte lamb prices ease
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2275 lambs, 431 fewer than last week, and 1313 sheep, 65 less.
The NLRS said a smaller field of trade and processor buyers was active and there was a small restocker presence. Prices generally eased across the market.
Lightweight lambs sold to the trade for $55-$100, with lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs ranging from $97-$107, to be $4 easier. Restockers paid from $62-$100. Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $109-$124, to be $3-$5 easier, at an average of 530c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $124-$155, with one pen of lambs estimated at 32kg cwt making $174.
Hoggets mainly ranged from $85-$110 and lightweight ewes made $55-$79. Medium weight ewes sold from $70-$101 at an average of 380c/kg cwt, with prices weakening by up to $7. Heavy ewes made $102-$120. Rams sold from $56-$85.
Muchea lamb prices ease
In WA at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9600 lambs, 3772 more than last week, and 7441 sheep, 1741 more.
The NLRS said large numbers of secondary and store lambs were offered. Quality was mixed with some good prime lambs offered, including solid supplies of heavy weights. All buyers were active in an erratic market where price spreads were much larger than recent weeks. Prime lamb prices eased slightly, but secondary drafts were back by up to $6.
Strong competition from live exporters and feeders led to better young store lambs trending dearer. Light store merino lambs to restockers made $15-$64, up $2. Light lambs to processors, live export and feeders made $65-$98, to be $5 either side of firm. Trade lambs sold from $87-$127, with the prime drafts similar at close to 530c/kg cwt. Secondary drafts were back $3-$6, to average 500c/kg. Heavy lambs more than 25kg cwt sold to a top of $140.
The mutton yarding included more heavy weights with increased wool length. Ewe supplies increased, while wether and ram numbers were similar to last week. Most ewe rates moved slightly lower, with 2 score processor mutton back $3 to $55-$92 or 330c/kg cwt. Heavy mutton sold from $70-$100, with most sales firm to slightly easier. Restocker activity increased, with better mature ewes selling from $72-$104.50, to be up $2.
Wether prices remained strong under solid live export competition. Better export weight drafts made $75-$114, to remain firm, with lighter and store drafts making $65-$92. Rams continued to sell well with increased live export demand. Ram lambs made $75-$109 and the better young rams sold from $65-$88.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.