Lamb prices improve, helped by strong restocker demand

Sheep Central, September 30, 2015
These April-May drop Poll Dorset-Merino cross lambs, 17kg cwt, sold for $94.50 at Coleambally, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These April-May drop Poll Dorset-Merino cross lambs, 17kg cwt, sold for $94.50 at Coleambally, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

LAMB prices lifted in saleyards early this week, led by strong restocking interest in light and lighter trade weight lines.

Restockers paid up to 922c/kg cwt for light 0-12kg new season lambs at Bendigo on Monday, and in other saleyards they generally paid 400-888c/kg. Demand for 16.1-18kg new season lines was also stronger, with prices ranging from 400-669c/kg.

The restockers are also pushing trade buyers off light trade young lambs, and into old lambs in some saleyards.

More new season lambs are being discounted for dry and seed-affected skins, dropping skin values, but light trade weight new season 18.1-22kg lambs still made from 430-640c/kg. Heavier young lambs ranged from 508-609c/kg, with most making less than 600c/kg.

Despite new season trade lambs generally increasing in price this week, agents are reporting delays of up to 10 days to book lambs in to kill at most processors, and over-the-hook rates for the coming week were quoted lower by the National Livestock Reporting Service.

Elders livestock manager at Bendigo Nigel Starick said restockers were strong in Bendigo on Monday, paying up to $126, at times pushing trade buyers off 18kg+ cwt lambs. But lack of rain was drying out lambs, with many producers opting to sell rather than shear and run lambs on.

“Everyone is hitting the panic button with next week, because it is going to be 38 degrees at Mildura on Sunday and 34-35 degrees here on Monday.”

Many processors were sourcing fresher lambs from south-east South Australia, he said.

Dubbo stock agent Cleve Olsen said the patchy market opened up on last week’s rates, moving up $4-$8 in the middle of the sale, paling off to be a firm market on last week. He said processors are not prepared to lock in forward prices. They were reporting difficulty in selling lamb domestically and the export job was “very patchy”, Mr Olsen said.

“It is the physical market that is trying to hold it together at the moment.”

He said the restocker market was very strong, from 600-700c/kg, driven mainly by farmer orders.

NLRS lamb indicators mainly improved

After Tuesday’s saleyards sales, the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb categories are: restocker 573c/kg, down 5 cents; Merinos 470c/kg, up 11c; light 510c/kg, up 10c; trade 537c/kg, up 4c; heavy 524c/kg, no change. The national trade lamb indicator closed up 4 cents to 537c/kg and the heavy indice is firm on 523c/kg.

The ESDI for mutton finished firm on 346c/kg and the national indicator is unchanged at 345c/kg.

NLRS over-the-hook lamb quotes generally lower

In NSW, the NLRS OTH quotes for 2-4 score lambs were slightly lower this week, with one contributor bringing their rates back in line with the majority. The lamb rates are: 18-120kg, 500-590c/kg, down 4 cents; 20-22kg, 520-590c/kg, down 4c; 22-24kg, 520-570c/kg, down 4c; 24-26kg, 510-560c/kg, down 6c; Merinos 16-22kg, 430-530c/kg, no change.

NSW’s mutton rates across all weight ranges lifted slightly from a few contributors. The rates are: 14-18kg, 240-310c/kg, down 7c; 18-24kg, 280-350c/kg, down 7c; 24kg+, 300-360c/kg, up 3c.

In Victoria, the NLRS OTH quotes for 2-4 score lambs continued to decline this week, as increased numbers of lambs come forward into spring. The lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 530-540c/kg, down 20c; 18-24kg, 530-550c/kg, down 17-23c; 24-26kg, 510-550c/kg, down 15c, and; 26kg+, 510c/kg, down 30c.

Victoria’s mutton over-the-hook indicators were unchanged on week-ago levels. The rates are: 14-18kg, 290-330c/kg; 18-24kg, 340-360c/kg; 24kg+, 310-350c/kg.

In South Australia, the NLRS over-the-hook quotes averaged 20-23c/kg cwt lower week-on-week, reportedly attributed to increasing supplies. The lamb quotes are: 16-18kg, 480c/kg, down 20c; 18-24kg, 480-550c/kg, down 23c; 24-26kg, 480-510c/kg, down 23c; Merinos 16-22kg, 430-450c/kg, down 20c.

SA’s mutton quotes also declined, with the medium weight category averaging 313c/kg cwt. The NLRS quotes are: 14-18kg, 250-340c/kg, down 8c; 18-24kg, 270-360c/kg, down 8c; 24kg+, 230-340c/kg, down 8c.

In Tasmania, the NLRS lamb and sheep over-the-hook quotes were unchanged. The lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 540-560c/kg; 16-20kg, 560-580c/kg; 20-22kg, 570-580c/kg; 22-24kg, 580c/kg; 24-26kg+, 570-580c/kg.

Western Australia’s over-the-hook quotes were not available when this report was published.

Dubbo’s new season trade lambs up to $6-$9 dearer

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 25,240 lambs, 120 fewer than last week, and 8000 sheep, 1500 less.

The NLRS said the better quality yarding had a fair selection of new season and Merino lambs, with a limited number of extra heavy weights. All the regular buyers operated.

Lightweight lambs were $6 dearer, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $65-$101. Trade weight new season lambs were $5-$9 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores making from $90-$138 to average 538c/kg cwt. Trade weight old lambs were $11 dearer at $88-$137. Heavy weight lambs were $10 dearer, with the heavy weight new season lambs making $146 and over 22kg 4 score old lambs $121-$179. Merino lambs were $12-$14 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $85-$123 and heavier weight Merinos to $137.

Restockers paid to $156 for first cross ewes and $118 for lambs to fatten. Hoggets sold to $110. Most grades of sheep were $3-$5 cheaper in a mainly good quality yarding. The better 3 and 4 score crossbred ewes sold from $68-$117 and Merinos made to $116. The better finished Merino wethers sold from $70-$123.

Corowa restocking lambs $3-$4 dearer

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,106 lambs, 5467 more than last week, and 2587 sheep, 2240 fewer.

The NLRS said lamb quality improved. About 12,700 new season lambs were offered, including plenty of well-finished trade weights and a good number of heavy weights. There were more lighter store and Merino lambs. Old lambs were mixed in quality and fewer in number. All the usual buyers operated in a dearer market.

Restocking new season lambs were $3-$4 dearer at $74-$106. Most of the yarding was trade weights. The medium and heavy trade weights sold from $109-$139, or 560-570c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs lifted $1-$3 to $130-$150, or 540-560c/kg, with the few pens of extra heavy weights making to $156.

Old lambs sold to solid prices on limited competition. Trade weights sold from $94-$128 and the heavy weights made $120-$144. Merino trade weights sold from $92-$110.

Sheep quality was mixed. Ewes were best supplied and the plainer medium weights eased up to $10, while the better covered 3 and 4 scores remained similar. Medium weight ewes ranged from $70-$92 and the heavy weights made $91-$110.

Tamworth lamb demand increased

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2950 lambs, 1300 more than last week, and 850 sheep, 250 more.

The NLRS said there was an improvement in overall lamb quality. Well-finished trade and heavy weights were in good supply. The extra numbers were possibly brought out due to the lack of a sale next week. The usual buyers attended.

Demand increased for all lamb classes, with quality improvements also contributing to a lift in average prices. Well-finished young lambs improved most. Restockers were active on good quality light weight lambs. There was only a small improvement, if any, in the old lambs suitable to the trade and export orders.

The quality and condition of the sheep was very mixed. The feature was a line of heavy Merino wethers carrying a 4-5cm skin. Market trends were firm to dearer.

Forbes’ new season trade lambs firm to $4 dearer

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 26,190 lambs, 6265 more than last week, and 5750 sheep, 2142 fewer.

The NLRS said there were 13,290 new season lambs and quality was very mixed. Some good lines of well-finished lambs attracted strong competition. An increased percentage of lambs showed signs of dryness and seed contamination. The usual buyers were active along with restockers in a market that averaged firm to slightly dearer, but was very erratic depending on quality.

New season lambs sold to restockers from $85-$114. Light lambs lifted $3 to sell from $92-$110. Trade weights were firm to $4 better at $110-$135. Heavy lambs were firm to $3 dearer at $133-$151. Carcase prices ranged from 538-544c/kg.

Old light lambs sold from $85-$98. Trade weights made $104-$126. Heavy lambs sold from $124-$149 and extra heavy weights $154-$173.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was very mixed. Light sheep sold stronger with the remainder easing. Merino ewes sold from $72-$103. Crossbreds made $70-$110. Merino wethers sold from $70-$92.

Inverell lambs $8 cheaper

At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2206 lambs, 856 fewer than last week, and 1161 sheep, 305 less.

The NLRS said quality was good with mainly well-finished trade and heavy lambs offered, many off crops. A consignment of Western sheep and a large pen of young lambs were also yarded. Trade weight old lambs were well-supplied and there were several pens of heavy lambs.

Despite the good quality yarding, competition was weaker, with most lambs selling $8 cheaper. The consignment of young lambs topped at $135 and heavy old lambs sold to $147.

The sheep were mainly medium weights, with some off shears and some in full wool. The market was generally $10 cheaper, with a pen of heavy wethers selling to $102.

Bendigo’s store lambs $5-$10 dearer

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 22,309 lambs, 5464 more than last week, and 11,688 sheep, 1226 more.

Most of the lift in the lamb yarding came from light weight store conditioned young lambs. One export buyer who hadn’t been competing on lambs in recent weeks rejoined bidding.

Prices for young export and trade weight lambs sold to slaughter were similar to a week ago, although carcase values increased slightly for some categories due to buyers working on reduced skin returns of $7-$9 as seed starts to appear.

The strength of the sale was store lambs, with most sales to the paddock averaging $5-$10 dearer. The market reached a top of $150 twice for heavy young lambs estimated to weigh around 28kg cwt. The supply of quality heavy young lambs was limited, with only about 12 pens in the yarding making $138-$150. The better finished trade lambs sold to domestic orders mostly made $120-$135. An estimated range of 510-535c/kg cwt covered most sales.

There was restocking orders from Ballarat, Hamilton, Kerang, Shepparton, Wagga Wagga in NSW, Tasmania and the local Bendigo area. Some southern restockers pushed into light trade weight lambs, paying $110-$125.60. The general run of light lambs to the paddock ranged from $88-$110, with the main category of 12-16kg store lambs averaging $92. Very small lambs under 12kg cwt to restockers recorded the best price gains at an average of $80.

The supply of old season lambs continued to dwindle. Prices were dearer, especially for lighter weight types as processors competed more strongly on these lambs after being out-bid by restockers on most of the lighter young lambs. Bidding for old lambs reached a top of $136.

There was a good selection of Merino and crossbred sheep in all weight categories. Prices were dearer, with heavy mutton regaining most of the previous week’s losses. Extra heavy crossbred ewes sold from $90-$105. Most of the trade weight and light sheep were $2-$6 dearer than a week ago. An average run of mutton was estimated to cost processors 330-360c/kg cwt.

Ballarat lambs generally firm

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9670 lambs, 1964 more than last week, and 4597 sheep, 431 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said lamb quality was average in a yarding that contained more new season lines. Most regular buyers attended, but not all operated fully in a generally firm market.

Odd lots of better presented quality lambs sold a few dollars dearer. Trade weight and heavy lambs sold to $140. Restockers and processors competed keenly for the lighter weight lambs, paying mostly from $81-$108. There were fewer old lambs and the heavier end sold from $92-$122. Heavy hoggets made $70-$101. Light weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $81-$94. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $92-$121 and averaged around 540c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $119-$128, with the heavier drafts making $129-$139, or 520-560c/kg to average 530-535c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold to $140.

All weights and grades of sheep were offered. Not all the regular buyers operated and sheep generally sold firm to $5 easier. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $110 to remain firm. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $43-$66. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $42-$83, or 220-380c/kg cwt, and Merino mutton averaged around 340c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep sold from $71-$88. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $93-$110 and the medium weights from $62-$98 at around 365c/kg.

Dublin’s trade lambs lift $4-$5

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 11,545 lambs, 3900 fewer than last week, and 3143 sheep, 1319 less.

The NLRS said the generally better quality yarding of mainly new season crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger demand. All of the usual trade and processor buyers attended. However, one processor didn’t operate and there was a lack of domestic participation. Feeders and restockers were cautiously active and paid prices similar to last week.

Feeders paid $56-$99 for light weight crossbred lambs and $90-$104 for heavier lines. Light weight 3 score lambs to trade buyers lifted $6 to $100-$110 to average 499c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $5 to $107-$120, averaging 497c, and heavy trade weights rose $4 to $110-$130, averaging 489c/kg. The few heavy weights sold from $130-$140. Light weight Merino lambs were plentiful, they sold to feeders and restockers for $60-$86. Light weights to processors lifted $8 to $88-$100 averaging 505c/kg, while trade weights sold from $95-$104, or 453-469c/kg cwt. Old crossbred heavyweight lambs were in demand at $95-$130 and heavy weight old Merinos lifted $3-$10, to average 438c/kg. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $90-$116 and equivalent crossbreds made $96-$110.

The mixed quality sheep sold to easing processor demand. Restockers paid $45-$75 for ewes. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $5 to $60-$80, averaging 265c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes eased $11 to $65-$85, to average 253c/kg. Heavy weight wethers eased $2 to $75-$105, to average 295c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold to $60.

Naracoorte kill lambs up $5-$10

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,760 lambs, 4787 more than last week, and 2386 sheep, 967 more.

The NLRS said there was a good field of buyers. Most of the increase in lambs was due to the larger penning of light weight and store conditioned grades which attracted strong processor and restocker interest. Heavy weight lambs and heavy weight sheep were not so keenly sought after.

Store lambs sold unchanged to $3 higher, but processors had to pay $5-$10 more to secure supply. Most 2 score light weight and store conditioned lambs sold from $70-$105. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold $5 dearer at $96-$129 for an average of 525c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 and 4 score lambs were $2-$3 easier at $119-$140, but extra heavy weights estimated at 29kg cwt sold up to $15 lower at $145. Most heavy weight lambs made 480-525c/kg. The few trade and heavy weight old lambs made $65-$100 and heavy weight hoggets sold from $75-$86.

Demand was best for light and medium weight sheep, which sold $5-$10 higher. The light weight 1 and 2 scores made $45-$70 and medium weight 2 and 3 scores sold from $67-$88. Heavy weight sheep made $2-$7 less at $73-$88. A run of 2 to 4 score ewe mutton mostly ranged from 270-370c/kg cwt. Rams sold firm at $52-$77 for most heavy weights. A pen of extra heavy Merino rams topped at $84.

Muchea prime lambs lift $5

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5000 lambs, 485 fewer than last week, and 9164 sheep, 1704 less.

The NLRS said 3800 new season lambs were yarded, included some pens of shorn new season lambs, but quality slipped. Competition was limited across the sale with prime lambs the only bright spot, these improved $5 with other.

Light new season lambs sold to restockers for $47-$55. The better light weight lambs sold to processors and feeders for $60-$95 to be firm to $5 dearer. Trade weight new season lambs made $80-$109, up to $5 dearer. A few heavy lambs sold to $110. The number of old lambs also lifted slightly and most trade weights made $79-$91.

Sheep generally sold $5-$10 cheaper. Ewe quality was reasonable, but fewer carried wool. Ewe prices suffered from over-supply and prices fell by $6-$10 for most. Light weight ewes made $20-$45, back $12, and the 2 score medium weight drafts made $30-$62, to be close to $13 easier. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes sold from $43-$80, also cheaper by almost $7. Restockers purchased young and mature ewes for $30-$80, up to $8 easier.

Wether prices were lower, with moderate live exporter activity. Bare shorn export weight wethers made from $80-$100. Those with longer wool made up to $116. Restockers and feeders paid $50-$102 for lighter conditioned and store wethers, with most around $6 easier. Ram prices also eased, with best ram lambs making to $95 and young drafts suitable for export orders $30-$85, back close to $8. Old ram prices also slipped, with most making $10-$30.

Northern Tasmanian lambs $10-$15 cheaper

At the northern Tasmanian saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 700 lambs, 265 more than last week, and 300 sheep, 20 fewer.

There was a larger yarding of lambs at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday with fewer heavy pens and more store types. Apart from two half pens, all were old lambs and with less export competition, heavy trade and heavy pens sold $10-$15 cheaper. Light trade types were unchanged. Restockers bought light lambs for $76-$86 and trade types for $98-$101. Exporters paid $58-$82 for light lambs. Light trade lambs sold for $99-$101, trade weights for $110-$124 and heavy weights for $119-$137.

Most sheep prices were similar to the last sale. Very light sheep made $40-$56, medium weights $69-$87 and heavy ewes $81-$91.

Sources: MLA, NLRS and AuctionsPlus


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