Lamb prices lift dramatically in saleyards and over-the-hook despite more sales

Sheep Central, May 25, 2016
These mid-May shorn August-September drop Poll Dorset cross lambs, 16.4kg cwt and mostly score 2s, sold for $20.50 at Cootamundra, NSW, on AuctionsPlus this week.

These mid-May shorn August-September drop Poll Dorset cross lambs, 16.4kg cwt and mostly score 2s, sold for $20.50 at Cootamundra, NSW, on AuctionsPlus this week.

TRADE, heavy and light lamb prices lifted dramatically early this week despite supplies from the fortnightly sales in New South Wales.

Trade and heavy lambs are more consistently making over 570c/kg, with heavy and extra heavy lambs at several markets making more than $200.

The best domestic lambs at Ballarat on Tuesday averaged close to 600c/kg cwt, with some light trade lines making more than 650c/kg.

Highlighting the tightening of quality lamb and sheep supplies, processors this week lifted their over-the-hook rates to attract more direct consignments.

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted all national and Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb and mutton, except restocker lambs, as higher.

The lamb ESDI’s were: restocker 564c/kg, down 3 cents; Merino 523c/kg, up 8 cents; light 559c/kg, up 10c; trade 567c/kg, up 8c; heavy 575c/kg, up 9c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted 9 cents to 569c/kg and the heavy indice rose 10 cents to 576c/kg.

The ESDI for mutton rose 1 cents to 366c/kg, just ahead of the national indice on 365c/kg, up 2 cents.

Over-the-hook rates lift

In New South Wales, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb and mutton indicators lifted this week after saleyard prices over previous weeks showed improvements. A ‘no quote’ is given for heavy weight mutton as a regular contributor is currently not quoting that category.

NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 490-600c/kg, up 28c/kg; 20-24kg, 520-560c/kg, up 28c; 24-26kg, 510-560c/kg, up 18c; Merinos 16-22kg, 420-500c/kg, no change. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 280-320c/kg, up 23c; 18-24kg, 300-380c/kg, up 25c; 24kg+, 320-400c/kg, no quote.

In Victoria, the NLRS said most contributors lifted lamb over-the-hook quotes higher again this week, with trade weight indicators up an average of 8c/kg cwt, to 558c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were unchanged week-on-week, with medium weights averaging 318c/kg cwt.

Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 540-560c/kg, up 7c; 18-22kg, 550-560c/kg, up 8c; 22-24kg, 520-560c/kg, up 3c; 24-26kg, 520-540c/kg, up 5c; 26kg+, 520c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 520c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 280-320c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 300-350c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 250-300c/kg.

In South Australia, the NLRS said all lamb over-the-hook indicators remained unchanged week-on-week, with trade weights averaging 537c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were also steady, with medium weights on 298c/kg cwt.

SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530c/kg; 18-24kg, 530-550c/kg; 24-26kg+, 510-530c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 230-340c/kg; 18-24kg, 250-340c/kg; 24kg+, 240-320c/kg.

In Western Australia, the NLRS quoted over-0the-hook lamb and sheep rates as unchanged this week. WA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 440-450c/kg; 18-22kg, 470-550c/kg; 22-26kg, 490-550c/kg; 26kg+, 470-490c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 420-440c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 280-290c/kg; 18-24kg, 250-290c/kg; 24kg+, 250-280c/kg.

In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook rates for light lambs as lifting 20c/kg, but all other categories unchanged to slightly dearer. Sheep rates lifted 5-10c/kg for 18-24kg+ cwt lines.

Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs Re: 0-16kg, 510-540c/kg, up 20c; 16-18kg, 500-540c/kg, up 20c; 18-20kg, 490-520c/kg, no change; 20-22kg, 490-510c/kg, nc; 22-24kg490-500c/kg, up 5c; 24-26kg, 480-500c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg, nc; 14-18kg, 270-300c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 270-300c/kg, up 5c; 24kg+, 260-290c/kg, up 10c.

Dubbo’s heavy lambs $6-$9 dearer to $207

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 24,165 lambs, 4265 more than last week, and 6075 sheep, 1985 fewer.

The NLRS said the fair quality lamb yarding included some top heavy weights and a reasonable selection of trade weights.

Light weight lambs were also well-supplied. Light weight lambs sold $4 dearer to processors, with the score 2 lines making from $58-$109. Trade lambs were $3-$6 dearer, with the score 3s selling from $99-$140, to average around 575c/kg cwt.

Heavy weight lambs were $6-$9 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores making from $129-$207. Merino lambs were $6 dearer, with trade weights selling from $89-$120 and heavier weight lines making to $148. Limited numbers of lambs sold to $110 to restockers. Crossbred hoggets sold to $125 and heavy weight Merino hoggets made to $136.

Most grades were represented in the good quality sheep yarding. The strong market continued, with most grades lifting a further $5-$7. The score 2 ewes sold from $35-$84. The better score 3 and 4 woolly Merinos made $73-$141 and crossbreds sold to $128. Woolly Merino wethers sold to $135.

Corowa’s heavy lambs lift $10

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 10,400 lambs, 1400 fewer than two weeks ago, and 2600 sheep, 400 less.

The NLRS said the mixed quality lamb yarding contained a good run of trade and heavy weight lambs that were grain assisted or off Lucerne that sold into a stronger market. All the usual buyers attended, but some could not compete with the prices paid.

Medium and heavy trade lambs were firm to $5 dearer at $123-$151 and averaged 580-590c/kg. Merino trade lambs sold to solid demand at $120-$147. Heavy weight lambs improved $10 to $153-$176 and averaged 585c/kg. Increased interest and stronger bidding pushed extra heavy lambs up to $15 dearer to $170-$196. Light weight lambs met solid demand and prices increased by up to $20 to $85-$116.

Mutton quality was mixed. The heavy score 4 crossbred ewes sold up to $14 dearer to $149. Heavy score 4 Merino ewes made to $130. Hoggets sold to $141 and Merino wethers to $122.

Only quality dampens Tamworth lamb and sheep demand

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3400 lambs, 1300 more than last week, and 1800 sheep, 150 more.

The NLRS said the quality of the lamb offering was fair to very good. Trade and heavy weight lambs were well-supplied, and there was a fair selection of secondary quality and store lambs. The usual buyers attended and there was increased demand for heavy and extra heavy weight lambs.

Light weight slaughter lambs sold dearer to restockers, while the better store lambs were slightly cheaper. There was a little, but quality-related, price change for well-finished trade weight lambs. Increased demand lifted prices for heavy and extra heavy weight by $5-$6. A drop in weight in the extra heavy weight class accounted for the fall in the average price.

The quality of the sheep was fair to good, with a number of pens carrying close to full-wool skins. Market trends were generally dearer with well-finished sheep getting hard to find. Once again a drop in weight accounted for any lower prices.

Forbes’ heavy lambs up $8-$12 to $225

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 24,850 lambs, 6250 fewer than last week, and 4050 sheep, 1750 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was fair with good, with lines of well-finished and grain-assisted lambs offered and some plainer types. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were again well-supplied. The usual buyers competed in a dearer market.

Light lambs lifted $6 to $106-$118. Trade weights were $5-$10 dearer and more in places, at $118-$147. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs lifted $8-$12. Heavy lambs sold from $140-$165 and extra heavies made $148-$225. Carcase prices mostly ranged from 579-613c/kg. Merino lambs sold from $114-$146.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality continued to be mixed. Prices were strong, with Merino ewes selling from $80-$130. Crossbred ewes sold from $83-$136. Merino wethers made $78-$156.

Inverell’s trade lambs fall $4, heavies firm

At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3258 lambs, 1650 more than two weeks ago, and 1746 sheep, 30 fewer.

The NLRS said lamb quality was good, with several supplementary-fed lines, although a few more lots were showing some dryness.

The market varied, with trade lambs $4 cheaper and heavy lambs firm. More light lambs were offered, with most going to restockers at firm to cheaper prices.

The sheep were a mixed line up of ewes and wethers. Several runs of heaver sheep in full wool were dearer, but lighter mutton struggled to hold firm.

Bendigo’s heavy lambs sell to $208

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 8996 lambs, 5124 fewer than last week, and 2013 sheep, 312 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was plainer than a week ago, with less weight and finish available. Bidding intensified on the better presented trade and export lambs which displayed decent fat cover, leading to much higher carcase rates than recent weeks.

The market was generally $4-$10 dearer, although some categories recorded greater price gains, including quality supplementary-fed Merino lambs in high value skins. The sale also gained strength as it progressed. Lamb prices reached $208 for a pen of heavy exports estimated at around 34kg cwt. There was only one sale over $200, but demand for heavy lambs improved and there were about a dozen sales from $180-$198.

The strongest competition was for lambs suiting domestic kill orders. The lead pens of heavy trade weights sold from $140-$160, and medium and light trade lambs made $120-$138. Demand for light weight kill lambs was very strong at $90-$117 for most. On a carcase basis, most crossbred lambs returned averages of 570c-600c/kg, with trade weight types higher at times, particularly late in the auction. Not many lambs suited restockers and the best sale of $115 was for a line of young first-cross ewe lambs.

The yarding featured a high percentage of Merino lambs, and the best of these off grain sold to $150. Merino lambs recorded some of the best price gains of the sale.

The sheep were very ordinary, comprising mostly smaller pen lots of mixed ewes. The market was dearer, with the main lines of mutton averaging 360-390c/kg cwt. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $100-$120 and a small pen of Dohne ewes made $135.

Ballarat lambs sell to $221

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 18,675 lambs, 5792 fewer than last week, and 2998 sheep, 4098 fewer.

The NLRS said lamb quality was again very good, with some excellent quality heavy and extra heavy lambs with an estimated carcase weight of 40kg selling to $221. The usual buyers operated very strongly on all classes of lamb, with the market generally $10 dearer and more in places.

The better-covered domestic lambs sold to strong competition at $135-$162 and averaged close to 600c/kg. Select lots of lighter trade weight lambs through the sale made close to 670c/kg.

Restockers were again active and paid mostly from $76-$106, with the lighter lots selling from $32-$75. Merino lambs in a big skin sold to $123. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $85-$104. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $99-$138.60 and averaged around 600c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $128-$158, with the heavier drafts making $135-$162, at 560-670c/kg, to average around 590c/kg.

Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $151-$191, with the extra heavy export lambs selling from $184-$221. Five pens made over $200 and up to $221 for a line of 194. Heavy hoggets sold from $98-$140.

The sheep sold to keen competition, with lighter sheep selling up to $8 better and the heavy crossbred sheep lifting $5. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $56-$84 and very light 1 scores made $38-$54. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $74-$120, or 300-420c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 385c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $78-$122 and wethers made to $137. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $129 and the medium weights made to $102. Rams were dearer, mostly selling from $66-$123.

Dublin lambs sell to $218

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin, the agents yarded 9000 lambs, 1547 fewer than last week, and 2000 sheep, 255 less.

The mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger competition from the usual trade and processor buyers plus some extra limited domestic input. Feeders and restockers were subdued and concentrated mainly on light weight crossbreds and longer wool Merinos.

Feeders paid $35-$75 for light weight crossbreds. Light weight 3 score crossbreds attracted solid bidding from processors at $100-$108. Light trade weight 3 scores lifted $9 to $106-$125, averaging 517c/kg cwt. Heavy trade weight 4 scores lifted $4 to $131-$147, to average 559c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $4 to $140-$182 to average 570c/kg. Extra heavy weights sold from $200-$218.

A good selection of Merino lambs were yarded and processors were keen to secure numbers. Light weights sold to feeders and restockers for $42-$86, while processors paid $100-$110 at an average of 505c/kg. Trade weights lifted $8 to $112-$128, averaging 478c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $14 to $126-$154, averaging 499c/kg. One pen of extra heavy weights sold at $182.

Hoggets sold to strong processor bidding, with heavy weight Merinos making $105-$132 and heavy weight crossbreds selling from $112-$130.

The mixed quality sheep yarding sold to strong processor demand. Light weight 2 score Merino ewes sold from $60-$82, averaging 296c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes lifted up to $15 to $85-$119, or 315-372c/kg. Wethers were scarce and sold from $102-$125, to average 320c/kg. Heavy weight rams made $92-$109.

Naracoorte’s trade lambs lift $10

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2158 lambs, 1265 more than last week, and 1001 sheep, 133 more.

The NLRS said a larger field of trade and processor buyers attended, with a small number of restocker orders. Quality lifted, with more lambs with good weight and condition.

Light weight lambs were very mixed in quality and made mainly $75-$108, up $3. Light weight 2 and 3 score types sold from $102-$110, up $6. Trade weight 3 score lambs rose by $10 and more in places, making $112-$128, or an average 540c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $125-$148, a lift of up to $8. Extra heavy lambs made $150-$165. Hoggets sold from $85-$110, with a pen of extra heavy Merino wethers with a long skin making $125.

Lightweight ewes ranged from $47-$70 and medium weight types sold from $70-$92, averaging 320c/kg. Heavy ewes lifted $4-$6 to mainly $87-$108. Rams sold from $34-$75.

Rain lifts Muchea prices

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4824 lambs, 3436 fewer than last week, and 2471 lambs, 2077 less.

The NLRS said the recent heavy rains throughout the south of the state had an effect on the market. Numbers almost halved and values lifted generally $3-$5. Quality improved on prime stock and drove competition.

Prime heavy lambs lifted by $3-$5 to $123-$132. Trade lambs sold from $98-$123, $2-$3 dearer, at 500c/kg. Air freight types lifted $3-$5 to $78-$95. Light store lambs sold to graziers at $25-$75, to be also $3-$5 dearer.

Graziers paid from $62-$74 for young Merino ewe lambs and young Merino wether lambs to feed for $63-$93. Ram lambs were also keenly sought by graziers, with lighter weights making $50-$75 and the trade paying from $75-$113 for better types.

Sheep prices also improved $3. Best heavy ewes sold from $73-$98, or close to 325c/kg cwt. Score 2 processor mutton made $70-$82 and light weights sold from $50-$64. Wethers sold to $135 for a pen of young well-conditioned sheep with a $25 skin. Most better types sold from $80-$94. Older rams sold to processors for $10-$40 and better younger types made $40-$65.

Northern Tasmanian lamb prices lift $10-$15

In the northern Tasmanian saleyards at Powranna and Killafaddy on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1200 lambs, 200 more than last week, and 400 sheep, 260 fewer.

The NLRS said more heavy lambs were yarded. All prices improved in line with interstate recent sales, with many up $10-$15. There was a very small yarding of mutton as supply tightened. Exporters paid $72-$92 for light lambs and $90-$106 for light trade types. Restockers paid $67-$90 for light lambs and $90-$100 for light trade lambs. Trade lambs sold from $106-$130, heavy $125-$139 and extra heavies $130-$145. Light ewes made $69-$77 and the medium and heavy ewes $85-$89.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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  1. L.Bayaraakhuu, May 27, 2016

    Could you explain me the meaning of “over-the-hook rate or price for lamb? Editor’s note: Sheep and lambs in Australia are commonly sold live in saleyards on farms at a per head price or at a price per kilogram of carcase weight (also called dressed weight) which is sometimes called the ‘over-the-hooks’ price or rate. ie. the price for a carcase hanging on a hook in an abattoir.

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