Lamb prices took another leap in saleyards mid-week as stronger domestic and export competition for limited numbers of quality 18kg-plus cwt lambs quietened restocker and feeder order bidding.
At Wagga on Wednesday, lamb prices — driven by domestic buyers competing with exporters for good quality shorn supplementary-fed lambs — jumped by up to $20 to reach carcase weight levels well above 500c/kg. Other markets also sold lambs above the 500c/kg cwt mark.
The National Livestock Reporting Service reporter at Wagga quoted medium and heavy trade lambs as making 550c/kg-560c/kg cwt, with new season shorn trade lambs averaging 541c/kg cwt and heavy and extra heavy lambs selling for $139-$163 or around 523c/kg cwt.
With fewer heavier shorn lambs coming back into the system this year, trade buyers are being forced to select from quickly diminishing supplies of fresh trade and heavy weight lambs that are not affected by dryness or grass seed.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said some lamb and sheep markets also moved higher this week in response to widespread showers, but that the most recent three month rainfall outlook issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) suggested a hot and dry summer ahead – indicating the high turn-off, likely to be met with limited restocking interest, will continue.
The NLRS said despite the seasonal rise in saleyard numbers and slaughter, most indicators made ground this week, with the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator finishing after Thursday’s sales at 479c/kg cwt, up four cents on Wednesday, and the heavy lamb indice was at 484¢/kg cwt, up five cents. The mutton indicator was up four cents to 293c/kg.
The other eastern states lamb indicators also increased, with restocker lambs at 473c/kg, up three cents; Merino lambs at 407c/kg cwt, up 22 cents and; light lambs at 447c/kg, up two cents.
The NLRS said most lamb indicators remain above the five-year average and the high turn-off is anticipated to continue. Reports of a greater proportion of lighter lambs coming through suggest tighter availability mid-next year. Encouragingly, the international demand for the surging supplies has been underpinning the markets and is likely to remain strong, the NLRS said.
Heavy lambs $3-$6 dearer at Carcoar
In NSW on Wednesday at Carcoar’s Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange, the agents yarded 18,750 lambs, 2400 more than last week, and 3050 sheep, 3650 less.
The NLRS said the good quality yarding had good numbers of trade and heavy weight new season lambs along with more light weight lines lacking finish and weight. All the regular buyers competed in a solid market.
Lightweight lambs were $5 dearer with solid support coming from the restockers. The 12-18kg 2 scores sold from $40-$70. Trade weight lambs were $6 dearer with the 18-22kg new season lambs selling from $87-$125, to average 508c/kg cwt. Trade weight old lambs sold from $73-$114. Heavy weight lambs were $3-$6 dearer with the over 22kg new season lambs selling from $115-$149, while the heavy weight old lambs sold to $155. Merino lambs were $4 dearer with trade weights selling from $73-$87. Restockers paid to $100 and hoggets sold to $82.
The mixed quality yarding mutton contained most grades, which sold firm to $3 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $24-$45, while the 3 and 4 scores sold from $58-$88 for crossbreds and $86 for Merinos. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $54-$93.
Light lambs $10 dearer at Goulburn
On Wednesday at the Goulburn saleyards, the agents yarded 2100 lambs, 500 fewer than last week, and 1300 sheep, 200 less.
The NLRS said the consignments of mostly new season lambs comprised mostly light and trade weights along with a fair portion of heavy weights. While nearly all the new season lambs remained unshorn, many skins showed dryness and increased seed infestation.
It was a variable market trend. Light lambs lifted by up to $10, while trade and heavy weights were firm to slightly cheaper. Lambs to restockers, including a percentage of trade and heavy weights, were $2-$5 dearer. Light restocking lambs up to 18kg cwt made from $69-$94, with heavier weights sold up to $108. Light processing lambs ranged from $66-$93, with trade weights from $89-$104. A few heavy weights reached $109 for most slaughter lots to average from 435c/kg-465c/kg cwt.
The smaller mixed quality sheep offering had plenty of lots in heavy condition. It was a firm to slightly cheaper market with medium and heavy ewes making $50-$100, while very heavy crossbred wethers reached $108.50. Most of the slaughter mutton averaged 275c/kg-315c/kg cwt.
Heavy lamb prices improve up to $20 at Wagga
On Thursday at the Wagga saleyards, the agents yarded 24,400 lambs, 200 more than last week, and 9800 sheep, 1600 more than last week.
The NLRS said quality was mixed with more longer-wool secondary lambs in plainer condition. Shorn young lamb numbers doubled this week, along with increased supplies of supplementary fed lambs above 26kg cwt. These lambs offered buyers weight and yield which helped lift prices up to $20 higher. The usual contingent of domestic and export buyers were competing in a dearer market.
Major domestic buyers were the market drivers across all pens of well-finished trade lambs, which contributed to prices lifting $10-$13. Light weight trade lambs to slaughter averaged $111.40. Medium and heavy trade lambs averaged 550c/kg-560c/kg cwt. The best of the heavy trade lambs sold from $112-$139.80. New season shorn trade lambs averaged 541c/kg cwt. Light immature Lambs to restock sold up to $8 cheaper due to the decline in quality. Well-bred secondary lambs returning to the paddock sold to steady demand to average $91.80.
Heavy export lamb numbers improved, assisted by greater supplies of shorn heavy and extra lambs. The shorn lamb portion benefited from strong export and domestic competition, mostly prices were $14-$19 higher. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold from $139-$163 to average 523c/kg cwt. A single pen of extra heavy shorn young lambs with an estimated carcass weight of 34kg, reached a top price of $163.
Mutton numbers increased and quality was mixed with all weights and grades represented. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were well-supplied, and prices were $2 dearer. Medium weight sheep made from $60-$90 to average from 272c/kg-302c/kg cwt. Heavy sheep were in reasonable supply and not all northern processor operated fully. Heavy mutton sold $4-$7 higher to average 281c/kg-332c/kg cwt. A run of heavy Merino wethers in full wool reached a top price of $114.20, to average 311c/kg cwt.
Heavy lambs up $8-$10 at Hamilton
In Victoria at Hamilton on Wednesday, agents yarded 42,149 lambs, 7290 fewer than the previous Wednesday.
The NLRS said all the regular buyers attended the sale, plus an extra heavy export and trade lamb buyer, assisting prices in the market. Restockers from southern NSW, northern Victoria and SA border areas, combined with local agents, continued to compete with the processors throughout the sale on light weight lambs, again lifting prices $2-$5. However, this did fluctuate at times as some sold to last week’s prices. The biggest jump in price was seen for the better quality heavy 3 and 4 score lambs and the heavy export lambs, at $8-$10 dearer. More of these were penned this week. Overall quality was very good, while there were also some well-bred lighter lambs.
Light 2 scores lambs sold from $57-$83, while light trade 2 and 3 scores ranged from $82-$93, varying from 440c/kg-480c/kg cwt averaging 460c/kg cwt. Medium and light trade 2 and 3 score lambs were firm to $2-$3 dearer, while medium trade 3 scores made from $93-$124.
Heavy trade 4 scores sold from $116-$134 and the extra heavy weights from $142-$160, to be around 460c/kg-510c/kg cwt, to average 480c/kg cwt. The top-price was $160 or 496c/kg cwt for 70 export lambs with an estimated carcase weight of 30kg and an $11 skin value.
Trade weight lambs reach 530c/kg cwt at Horsham
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 4117 lambs, 3340 fewer than last week, and 6625 sheep, 674 more.
The NLRS said most of the regular buyers competed for the average quality lamb yarding. Competition was keen with most lambs selling to a dearer trend to be from $2-$7 up on last week and more on some selected lots. Several pens of light trade shorn lambs were offered, and they sold from $80-$104 at around 500c/kg cwt. Restockers were quiet but did pay from $66-$84.50 for lambs and from $70-$77.50 for Merino and crossbred ewes.
Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $67-$80. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$99, with the heavier lots selling from $96-$107. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $110-$128, and they ranged from 470c/kg-530c/kg cwt, to average around 490c/kg cwt. Heavy hoggets sold from $72-$97.
The sheep offering included all weights and grades plus several runs of longer wool Merino sheep. Most sheep sold to a dearer trend with a pen of near full wool Merino ewes selling for $100. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $42-$66. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $52-$94.50 and ranged from 270c/kg-330c/kg cwt, to average around 310c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $68-$100, with heavy Merino wethers selling from $86-$94 and the medium weights selling from $62-$72 at around 315c/kg cwt.
Heavy sheep $3-$5 dearer at Hamilton
At the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 13,279 sheep, 4481 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said the good to average quality yarding of sheep contained more light weight mutton. The sale consisted of about 60 percent ewes and 40pc wethers. All the usual field buyers operated at stronger levels. There was no restocker activity, with prices in places $3-$5 dearer for the heavier sheep. The medium weight range also lifted $4-$8 and the light sheep were $3-$5 dearer.
Light 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $38-$63. Medium trade weight 2 and 3 score sheep made between $58-$78 to range from 260c/kg-310c/kg cwt and average 280c/kg cwt. Medium Merino ewes sold from $60-$78 and the first cross ewes were from $58-$76. Heavier crossbred 4 score ewes sold from $80-$90, with the best Merino ewes up to $91 and the better Merino wethers making from $81-$95, with the range from 280c/kg-310c/kg cwt and an estimated average of 300c/kg cwt.
A single small pen of cross bred wethers topped the sale at $110, with an estimated price of 330c/kg cwt. There was more demand for Merino rams at $29-$41. The best of the Dorset rams made $18. A few pens of hoggets made from $62-$90 to average around 350c/kg cwt.
Sheep firm, lambs up $8-$10 at Mt Gambier
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 10,999 lambs, 1109 fewer than last week, and 988 sheep, 657 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality and weight improved, as did prices, with bidding from extra domestic and restocker buyers. The buoyant market saw some spirited and animated bidding with the significant competition among the trade and processors not allowing restockers to purchase any significant numbers. Returns for vendors jumped by $8-$10 across the whole lamb offering, while the sheep were firm on last week’s prices.
The lightweight lambs mainly ranged from $56-$66, with the lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs returning from $63-$88 as these lambs improved $8. The few lambs purchased by restockers ranged from $60-$88. Trade weight 3 score lambs also rose in price by $8-$10 to $85-$122, returning from 480c/kg-510c/kg cwt. There was spirited competition for the improved supply of heavy lambs and their prices followed the dearer trend, selling from $122-$140. Extra heavy export weight lambs made $130-$152, also at an average of 480c/kg-510c/kg cwt. The few hoggets offered sold from $65-$83.
The lightweight 1 and 2 score ewes made from $32-$58 with medium weight types ranging from $60-$77 to average 300c/kg-310c/kg cwt. Heavyweight 4 and 5 score ewes ranged from $78-$94. The few wethers offered sold from $85-$94, while rams returned mainly from $16-$20.
Lamb prices up $ at Katanning
In WA at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7000 lambs, 1000 more than last week, and 9198 sheep, 1065 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed with most being of good quality, but generally in the light and store categories. Prime lamb numbers were better with some good trade and heavy weight lines offered. Mutton supplies included a larger percentage of light and poor conditioned drafts along with moderate numbers of prime drafts. With all buyer groups active, prices were strong and most categories lifted close to $4.
Light and store lamb categories made $40-$93, close to $4 dearer with very light drafts, mostly Merino, selling from $15. Light air freight and processor lamb sold at equal prices, making $60-$91 and trade lambs lifted $3, with most from $90-$111. Heavy lambs sold to a top of $124, the better lambs selling at 490c/kg cwt.
Ewe prices again lifted with solid restocker interest in light conditioned drafts. Light ewes made $40-$63 to be $3 dearer.
The 2 score processor mutton made $45-$80, to be $4 dearer at close to 305c/kg cwt. The 3 and 4 score ewes, including heavy weight drafts, lifted $4 and made $65-$86 with crossbred ewes from $47-$86, to be $5 dearer. Wether prices remained firm to $2 dearer. The heavy weight drafts to processors made from $75-$90, equal to last sale. Lighter and store conditioned drafts were close to $2 dearer with most sales from $50-$82. Ram sales remained firm, with the best ram lambs to $85 and other young drafts from $25-$50 and old rams from $5-$30.