Lamb prices improve in saleyards as wet weather stifles new season turn-off

Sheep Central September 21, 2016
These April-May drop Poll Dorset cross lambs, 16.6kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $123.50 on AuctionsPlus on Tuesday.

These April-May drop Poll Dorset cross lambs, 16.6kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $123.50 at Violet Town in Victoria on AuctionsPlus on Tuesday.

LAMB prices continued to improve in saleyards early this week as supply tightened due to widespread and sometimes very heavy rain.

The National Livestock Reporting Service said in September to-date, almost 140,000 fewer lambs have been offered at saleyards year-on-year — 371,957 nationally — with all states registering lower yardings.

With the tighter availability, lamb prices have sustained higher levels year-on-year, the NLRS said.

Restocker lamb purchases are down 69 percent year-on-year, unsurprising given the number of producers retaining lambs, combined with the higher prices for re-purchase – the price paid by restockers nationally in September averaged 591c/kg, up 7c/kg  year-on-year, the reporting service said.

Processor purchases of lambs are down 20pc in September, with the national average price processors have paid this month at 551c/kg, up 49c/kg. Other national lamb indicators have also performed well for September, compared to the corresponding period last year.

The NLRS said lamb supplies are anticipated to increase over coming months, typically corresponding with a seasonal ease in prices – albeit off the currently high base. However, good rainfall over winter and during the start of spring, along with a moderate three-month outlook, will continue to assist the market.

NLRS lamb indicators continue to move up

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb were: restocker 674c/kg, up 38 cents; Merino 585c/kg, up 24c; light 610c/kg, up 19c; trade 631c/kg, up 8c; heavy 622c/kg, up 4c. The ESDI for mutton closed down 7 cents to 403c/kg.

Over-the-hook rates in most states held firm this week as lamb consignments direct to processors were limited by wet weather conditions.

Dubbo trade lambs $8-$10 dearer

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,000 lambs, 7000 fewer than last week, and 2300 sheep, 2850 less.

The NLRS said that due to at least 20mm of weekend rain, sheep and lamb numbers almost halved on the expected draw. It was a pretty good quality yarding, with good numbers of new season lambs in good condition and some well-finished old lambs. Merino lambs were also well-supplied.

Light weight lambs sold $6 dearer to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $67-$115. Trade lambs were $8-$10 dearer, with the 18-23kg new season lambs selling from $122-$160, or mostly 640-660c/kg cwt. Trade weight old lambs sold from $109-$152. Heavy weight lambs were $9 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $145-$190.

The heavy weight new season lambs sold to $177. Merino lambs were $10-$14 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $115-$148. The heavy Merino lambs sold to $155. Hoggets sold to $134.

It was a fair to good quality sheep yarding and most grades finished $5 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $66-$90. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds sold from $88-$124 and Merinos made to $134. Woolly Merino wethers sold to $137.

Corowa’s heavy lambs lift $18

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 6600 lambs, 1600 fewer than last week, and 2700 sheep, 1200 more.

The NLRS said lamb numbers decreased again due to the wet weather, but included 4300 new season lambs. Quality remained good and fewer secondary lambs were presented. Not all major domestic buyers attended, but competition was especially strong on the older lambs in a market that got progressively dearer.

New season trade weight lambs sold to strong demand, lifting $10, and heavy lamb prices rose $18. Light trade weight lambs sold from $116-$134, medium trade lambs made $129-$151 and the heavy trade lambs sold from $148-$168. Heavy lambs sold from $158-$173. The 22-26kg lambs averaged 636c/kg. Old trade lambs prices rose $15-$20, with trade weights making $123-$169 and extra heavies selling to $175.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was very mixed. All the usual buyers attended and competition was stronger. Heavy weight crossbred ewes made to $130, Merino ewes sold from $78-$125, wethers sold to $150 and hoggets to $135.

Tamworth lambs firm to dearer

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 100 fewer than last week, and 500 sheep, 600 less.

The NLRS said the good quality penning comprised new season young lambs and well-finished old lambs. There were also fair numbers of plain condition and light lambs suitable for restockers. The usual buyers attended.

Market trends were firm to dearer, with little but weight related price changes in the young trade and heavy weight lambs. Restockers were active on the lighter weight young lambs at dearer prices. The plain condition light weight old lambs experienced strong price gains on the back of increased restocker competition. The trade and heavy weight old lambs remained firm, with odd dearer sales for the better quality lots. The small number of sheep sold up to $2 dearer.

Forbes’ trade lambs lift $5-$8

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,250 lambs, 4250 fewer than last week, and 6000 sheep, 1800 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality remained fair. There were good numbers of well-finished lambs and a few plainer types. The yarding included 10,000 new season lambs. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market.

Light new season lambs lifted $5 to $121-$126. Trade weights were $5-$8-plus dearer. Prices ranged from $126-$159. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs sold $5 better. Heavy lambs sold from $152-$171 and extra heavies made $170-$180. Carcase prices averaged 649-670c/kg.

Old light lambs lifted $5 to $113-$122. Trade weights were $6 dearer at $125-$147. Heavy and extra heavy weights also lifted $6. Heavy lambs sold from $150-$168 and extra heavies made $161-$180. Most of the sheep were mixed quality Merinos. Prices eased slightly, with Merino ewes selling from $77-$136. Heavy crossbred ewes made $94-$124 and Merino wethers sold from $86-$139.

Deniliquin’s trade lambs $8-$10 dearer

At the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6194 lambs, 1011 more than two weeks ago, and 1989 sheep, 2029 fewer.

The NLRS said wet weather was responsible for similar lamb numbers and the reducing sheep supply. Most of the yarding comprised new season lambs and quality was mixed, with recent heavy rainfall reflected in the plainer skins in some pens. Buyer competition was strong, with reports many processors are still short of kill numbers due the wet conditions disrupting the movement of stock.

Prices for the main drafts of trade weight young lambs were $8-$10 dearer compared to a fortnight ago, with the sale also rated as stronger than nearby prime markets held in the past week. One small pen lot of extra heavy young export lambs sold for the top price of $180. However, there wasn’t a lot of weight across the yarding, with the bulk of the young lambs weighing 24kg cwt and less.

The main drafts of trade weight lambs, 22-24kg, consistently sold from $143-$161. On a carcase basis, estimated rates trended above 600c/kg, reaching a peak of around 650c/g and averaging 620-630c/kg over most pens. Light weight crossbred lambs mostly sold from $122-$135, and were also dearer. There were no significant lines of young store lambs to suit restockers.

Demand for mutton remained robust and prices were similar to the previous sale, with some of the heaviest ewes dearer in places. Most sheep starting to get heavier and with improved fat cover off shears, sold above $100, reaching a top of $135 for full wool Samm ewes and $137 for big crossbreds.

Bendigo’s young lambs fall $2-$5

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 16,306 lambs, 2772 more than last week, and 4029 sheep, 563 less.

The NLRS said the lamb offering lifted again as the spring flush starts to build. It is now dominated by new season stock, with the supply of old season lambs dwindling to odd clean-up lots. The weight and finish of young lambs continues to improve, with more pens averaging more than 22kg cwt.

All the regular buyers competed, and one major export company which hadn’t been purchasing lambs in recent weeks, re-joined the market.

Prices fluctuated during the sale, with some young lambs selling at similar rates last week but most averaging $2-$5 easier. The heaviest of the young lambs sold to a top of $185 for a pen estimated at 29kg cwt with an $8 skin. There were just three sales above $180, followed by another 10 pens at $170-$179. The main drafts of heavy trade weight lambs, 24-26kg, and suiting domestic and export orders, sold from $144-$167. The medium trade weights mostly made $130-$142.

On a carcase basis, there was a fairly wide range of 550-640c/kg across young lambs sold to slaughter. However, cwt rates for most of the better finished types were between 580-610c/kg. The increasing numbers are allowing buyers to become more discerning and any plainer young lambs showing inconsistent fat cover and carcase finish were discounted.

The supply of light weight young lambs was again very limited. Agents from Ballarat, Shepparton and the Mallee watched the sale, but restocker activity was limited. Most of the light and small young lambs sold for processing at $86-$114.

The sheep were mostly Merino and crossbred ewes off shears. Carcase rates lifted, with the better runs of Merino mutton trending over 400c/kg. This pushed dollar per head returns for ewes and wethers with reasonable frame size and weight above $88, reaching a top of $125. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $110-$137.

Ballarat lamb prices firm

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7136 lambs, 1546 more than last week, and 3293 sheep, 1720 fewer.

The NLRS said about half the lambs yarded were new season drafts. Most usual buyers attended and operated. Quality was from good to average, with more drafts of lighter lambs attracting processor and store buyer interest.

Prices were firm overall, with the lighter lambs $3-$4 dearer, due to the extra competition. Local restockers paid $89-$121 for new season store lambs, from $56-$79 for light old lambs and up to $111 for 2 score old lambs. Significantly fewer old lambs were yarded. Light trade weight 2 score lambs made $100-$112. Medium trade old 2 and 3 score lambs made $115-$144. Heavier pens of 3-4 score sold from $125-$160, generally $3-$5 dearer, and from 560-600c/kg cwt.

Light trade 2 and 3 score young lambs made $108-$120. Medium trade weight 3 scores made from $132-$148. Heavy trade 3 and 4 scores sold from $145-$161, or 600-654c/kg, averaging an estimated 620c/kg. Heavier new season 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $150-$170.

The sheep averaged heavier this week and generally sold either side of firm. Merino mutton was slightly easier, but some crossbreds sold from firm to $6 dearer at times. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $55-$75. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $76-$98. Merino mutton averaged around 405c/kg and the heavy crossbred 3-5 scores sold from $91-$128, averaging 370c/kg. Medium Merino wethers sold from $83-$93 and heavier 3 and 4 scores made $105-$124, or close to 410c/kg. Better rams of all breeds sold from $87-$113.

Dublin’s new season lambs lift $6-$12

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange on Tuesday, the agents yarded 8775 lambs, 1225 fewer than last week, and 2976 sheep, 1024 less.

The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers attended, but not all were fully active on the better quality offering in a rain-soaked SA Livestock Exchange.

Large numbers of new season lambs with weight and condition sparked buyer interest, creating more competition than previous weeks. This led to a lift in lamb prices, with a large number of pens above the $160 mark and a high of $198 being reached.

Most new season lambs sold $6-$12 dearer than last week. Light weight lambs were slightly dearer to the trade at mainly $66-$105. Restockers paid $44-$92. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $105-$118 and similar Merinos made $90-$116. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $110-$135, at an average of 585c/kg. Heavy lambs made $132-$172. The extra heavy types sold from $160-$198.

All old lambs lifted $4-$7, and more in places Light weight old season lambs sold from $54-$94 and the light weight trade 2 and 3 score types made $88-$114. Trade weight 3 score old lambs sold from $100-$160 and heavier lines made $125-$192. Light weight hoggets sold from $60-$102 and heavier types made $104-$130.

The sheep were mainly good quality off-shears Merinos and sold fully firm. Some light weight types made $60-$71, medium weights sold from $70-$89 and the heavier types made $75-$119. Light weight wethers sold from $80-$95 and heavier lines made $85-$132. Rams sold from $80-$120.

Naracoorte’s best heavy young lambs lift $2-$10

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3368 lambs, 1100 more than last week, and 1899 sheep, 842 fewer.

The NLRS said a large percentage of the yarding was new season young lambs in good condition. Quality was good and the usual buyers operated in a dearer market

The best heavy young lambs made to $170, up $2-$10. Trade weights sold from $134-$155 and averaged around 615c/kg. Restockers competed keenly on some big runs of young first cross ewe lambs. The better grown ewe lambs returned to the paddock for $156.50-$170 and the lighter weights made $90-$136.

Light weight 2 score new season lambs sold to $105. Light trade 2 and 3 score young lambs made $107-$143.60 to average around 620c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $134-$155, or 590-640c/kg, to average around 615c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $158-$170 at around 610c/kg. Heavy old lambs made $138-$145 and the trade weights sold from $108-$128. Heavy hoggets sold to $112.

The sheep offering included all weights and grades, with lighter sheep easing a few dollars and heavier sheep selling a few dollars up on last week. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $60-$70. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $68-$107, or 320-450c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 415c/kg. Heavy crossbred sheep made $90-$124 and rams to$112.

Muchea lambs firm

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4714 lambs, 349 more than last week, and 2060 sheep, 3720 fewer.

The NLRS said numbers contracted by 35pc this week after prices fell over the last couple of weeks.

Most lambs were trade weight new seasons drafts. Quality remained equal to last week with reasonable numbers of lambs lacking finish, along with some very good drafts and light weight store drafts.

Light weight lambs sold from $45-$85 to be equal to last week, with live export and restockers taking the plainer conditioned drafts. Trade weight lambs gained some ground on the lighter conditioned drafts, with the prime and heavy drafts firm on last week. Most trade lambs sold from $85-$110, or close to 440c/kg. Heavy weight lambs sold to $124 and averaged close to $109.

Ewe and wether quality remained good. The buyers were all active, but competition remained subdued, except for stronger demand for export wethers. Most prices were close to firm, with numbers being the driver.

Ewe mutton sold firm to $2 easier across most weight categories. Light ewes made $45-$55 and the medium weight 2 score ewes sold to processors for $44-$75, equal to last week. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes sold $2 easier at $60-$92. The carcase weight price was 280c/kg for most mutton.

Restockers purchased some ewes at discounted rates because of invalid declarations. Younger drafts made $49-$90 and suitable mature ewes sold from $56-$60.

Wether prices were driven by export demand and prices for heavy export wethers lifted by up to $4. Heavy wethers made $80-$126and most bare shorn lines sold from $85-$95. Lighter wether drafts made $68-$95, with small numbers going to export feeders and restockers. Ram prices were similar. Ram lambs made $70-$98 and younger drafts sold to exporters and feeders for $40-$94. Old rams sold firm to processors for $20-$70.

Tasmanian lambs sell to $140

In Tasmania on Tuesday, the agents yarded 503 lambs, 236 fewer than last week, and 394 sheep, 171 more.

Restockers paid $70-$99 for a better line up of lambs. Trade and medium weight lambs sold at $100-$130, with a few heavier lambs making to $140. Mutton sold much firmer, with lightweights selling at $54-$70 and medium weights from $70-$90.

Sources: MLA, NLRS.


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