Lamb prices rebound despite quality, skin and seed issues

Sheep Central, October 21, 2015
These May-July drop Poll Dorset cross lambs at Bombala NSW weighing 17.6kg cwt sold for $95.50 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These May-July drop Poll Dorset cross lambs at Bombala NSW weighing 17.6kg cwt sold for $95.50 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

LAMB prices rebounded this week despite mixed quality yardings showing skin dryness and seed.

Buyers were forced to pay from $5-$12 more for trade weight lambs early this week, as more processors competed for smaller offerings and producers opted to shear and run lambs on.

Restockers were also active in most saleyards, though mainly on Merino lambs and lighter crossbred lines.

In New South Wales, light trade weight lambs with skin values up to $12 paid $95-$134 or 414-595c/kg. Prices for lambs weighing 22-26kg+ cwt also lifted, up $8, with lines carrying $6-$10 skins making $102-$156 or 417-584c/kg.

Victorian lamb prices generally lifted $5-$10 with slightly higher skin values and more maturity in new season lines, although buyers were selective on secondary lines. Light trade lambs at Bendigo and Ballarat with skins value up to $10 made $80-$124, or 400-535c/kg. Medium trade and heavy lambs over 22kg with skins valued at $8-$12 sold for $94-$145, or 358-522c/kg.

South Australia’s saleyard prices for light and trade weight lambs lifted by up to $10, helped by restocker interest. At Dublin and Naracoorte 18-22kg new season lambs with skins value up to $10 made $81-$124, or 400-458c/kg. Lambs over 22kg cwt with $1-$10 skins sold for $102-$146, or 421-527c/kg.

All NLRS lamb indicators improve

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted big improvements in its Eastern States Daily Indicators for lamb. The lamb ESDIs are: restocker, 547c/kg, up 31 cents; Merino 427c/kg, up 28c; light 464c/kg, up 20c; trade 494c/kg, up 14c; heavy 487c/kg, up 15c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted 16 cents to 497c/kg and the heavy lamb indice was up 16 cents to 488c/kg.

The ESDI for mutton closed 7 cents higher to 298c/kg and the national indicator was 8 cents higher on 299c/kg.

Over-the-hook rates still falling

The National Livestock Reporting Service said over-the-hook lamb indicators in NSW continued to fall this week. However some contributors suggest they have begun to level out, as trade weight lines range from 440c to 480c/kg cwt. Light weight sheep continue to be the hardest hit, with rates averaging 243c/kg cwt.

NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 440-480c/kg, down 13c; 20-24kg, 470-480c/kg, down 16c; 24-26kg+, 430-480c/kg, down 18c; Merinos 16-22kg, 370-450c/kg, no change. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 230-250c/kg, down 40c; 18-24kg, 250-300c/kg, down 20c; 24kg+, 240-300c/kg, down 12c.

In Victoria, the NLRS said OTH lamb indicators continued to move lower week-on-week, with trade weight categories down an average of 23c/kg cwt. Mutton indicators were unchanged on week-ago levels.

Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-22kg, 460-500c/kg, down 20-23c; 22-24kg, 480-500c/kg, down 17c; 24-26kg, 440-500c/kg, down 15c; 26kg+, 440c/kg, down 30c. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 230-300c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 250-300c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 200-250c/kg, nc.

In South Australia, the NLRS said trade and heavy weight lamb over-the-hook indicators fell an average of 10c/kg cwt week-on-week, while light weight and Merino lambs were steady. Mutton over-the-hook indicators were unchanged on week-ago levels.

South Australia’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-24kg, 460-480c/kg, firm to down 10c; 24-26kg+, 440-460c/kg, down 10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 410-430c/kg, down 10c. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 220-310c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 240-300c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 200-280c/kg, nc.

The quoted OTH rates for sheep and lamb in Tasmanian also continued to fall this week. The 2-4 score lamb rates are: 0-18kg, 460-480c/kg, down 20-30c; 18-26kg, 470-480c/kg, down 35c; 26kg+, 480c/kg, down 30c. The sheep rates are: 0-18kg, 290-300kg, down 20-30c; 18-24kg, 300c/kg, down 30c; 24kg+, 280-300c/kg, down 20c.

Dubbo trade lambs $12 dearer

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 25,950 lambs, 4806 fewer than last week, and 11,720 sheep, 2159 more.

The NLRS said it was a fair quality yarding with a large percentage of the crossbred lambs in dry condition and carrying burrs. Merino lambs and hoggets were also well-supplied.

Lightweight new season lambs were $8 dearer, with 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $67-$85. Trade weight lambs were $12 dearer, with 18-22kg lines making $93-$134 to average 523c/kg cwt.

Trade weight old lambs sold from $85-$129. Heavy weight lambs were $12-$14 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores making $107-$160. Merino lambs were $8-$12 dearer, with trade weights selling from $79-$108. Heavier weight Merinos sold to $124. Restockers paid to $116 and hoggets sold to $96.

Sheep quality was mixed with a good selection of well-finished lines and fair numbers of plainer types. The market was solid with most grades finishing firm to $5 dearer. The 2 score ewes sold from $31-$68, while better 3 and 4 score Merinos made $65-$123 and crossbreds sold to $96. The better finished Merino wethers sold from $75-$115.

Corowa’s trade lambs $5 dearer

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 12,200 lambs, 4600 fewer than last week, and 2600 sheep, 3400 less.

The NLRS said lamb numbers dropped considerably after the previous cheaper market. It was a better quality yarding, with only a small selection of older lambs. Restockers were active on the Merino lambs.

Light weight lambs were firm, with the 2 scores selling from $60-$96. Trade weight new season lambs were $5 dearer at $84-$131. A single pen of new season lambs sold for $156. Trade and heavy weight old lambs were $5 dearer, with lambs over 18kg cwt making $75-$135.

It was mostly a good quality yarding of mutton, with processors operating on most of the offering. Ewes and wethers in prime condition sold $10-$20 dearer, with crossbred ewes making $73-$96 and Merino wethers selling to $90. Wethers sold to processors for $90.

Tamworth’s young trade lambs lift $5-$7

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3300 lambs, 700 fewer than last year, and 900 sheep, 850 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mostly good, with good supplies of trade and heavy weight young lambs. There was more Merino lambs, but very few crossbred lambs suitable to restockers. The usual buyers attended.

Market trends were generally dearer, with trade weight young lambs up by $5-$7 and heavier weights by $4. Trade and heavy weight old lamb prices improved by $2-$3.

The limited number of sheep on offer sold to a slightly cheaper trend, with the low numbers creating transport ramifications for some buyers.

Forbes’ trade lambs lift $5-$8

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 29,980 lambs, 4212 more than last year, and 5880 sheep, 1843 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said there were 10,810 mixed quality new season lambs, including a good offering of finished lines and some plainer drier types. Most of the usual buyers competing in a dearer market.

New season lambs continued to attract strong competition from restockers, selling from $68-$114. Light lambs lifted $6 to $91-$107. Trade weights were $5-$8 better and more in some places. Prices ranged from $108-$133. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were also $6-$8 dearer at $127-$145, or around 500-540c/kg cwt.

Old trade weight lambs sold from $106-$123. Heavy lambs made $120-$144 with extra heavies reaching $155.

Most of the sheep were mixed quality Merinos. Prices remained steady, with Merino ewes selling from $73-$99. Crossbreds sold from $72-$88 and Dorper ewes made $66-$80. Merino wethers ranged from $72-$99.

Deniliquin district producers opt to shear

At the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1757 lambs, 5074 fewer than two weeks ago, and 1374 sheep, 1804 less.

The NLRS said a much smaller offering of lambs came forward amid reports recent price falls and grass-seed issues had prompted local farmers to shear young lambs. The reduced offering was mixed in quality and not all the buyers operated. Prices trended dearer than a fortnight ago, but this was based on limited quotes.

Young lambs sold to $128. Four pens of heavy lambs sold from $124-$128 and the better drafts of trade weights made $110-$120. Lighter weight young lambs mostly sold from $90-$101, including some pens to restockers. An estimated range of 450-500c/kg cwt covered most sales.

The yarding of old season lambs comprised mainly smaller clean-up lots of a few head and prices reached a top of $120.

The sheep were mostly Merino ewes. Prices were up to $18 dearer than a fortnight ago, with pens of heavy Merino ewes in big skins selling from $90-$102. The better quality mutton ranged from about 245-300c/kg, to average around 265c/kg.

Bendigo lambs lift $6-$10

At the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 15,039 lambs, 9325 fewer than last week, and 8664 sheep, 1679 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality remained mixed, with only limited pens of quality trade and export weight lambs comprising mainly drier skinned types in store condition.

Demand was stronger, with most young lambs to slaughter ranging from $6-$10 dearer, the best presented domestic lambs recorded much greater price gains. The market reached a top of $136 for heavy export lambs and $133 for domestic lambs. About 20 pens of heavy lambs sold from $130-$136. Most of the young lambs sold to domestic slaughter made $110-$125. On a carcass basis the heaviest lambs were around 440-460c/k cwt and most of the better trade lambs ranged from 470-485c/kg with select sales out to about 510c/kg cwt. Bidding was selective on plainer bred and finished trade lambs that lacked cover, which resulted in cheaper prices for some score 2 categories.

The stronger competition from processors for kill lambs meant the specialist restocking orders from Ballarat for bigger store lambs did not operate this week. Most lambs sold back to the paddock were lighter types at $75-$95, a few dollars dearer than the last sale. Store orders came from Deniliquin, Finley, Albury, Birchip, Horsham and the local Bendigo area.

The supply of old shorn lambs remained limited and prices trended dearer, especially for neat trade lambs which averaged $10 dearer. Heavy old lambs sold to $114 and the general run of lighter trade lambs made $65-$89.

Less sheep also came forward and prices were dearer than a week ago. Extra heavy crossbred ewes, which had been discounted at recent sales, were up to $16 dearer at $62-$78.60. The better quality runs of trade mutton sold $3-$7 higher at an estimated 270-300c/kg cwt.

Ballarat lambs $5-$10 dearer

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,990 lambs 1839 fewer than last week, and 5059 sheep, 4863 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was average to good, with most of the regular buyers operating in a dearer market.

On quality, lambs were $5-$10 dearer than last week, with the heavy lambs reaching a market top of $145. As the young lamb selling season gets in to full swing, lambs are now showing more finish and maturity. Quality domestic lambs were keenly sought and sold to $135.

Feeders and restockers were active and paid mostly $78-$117, with lighter drafts making to $75. They also paid from $60-$67 for young Merino wethers. Light weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $73-$82. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $75-$115 and averaged around 470c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $110-$122, with the heavier drafts making $120-$135 at 475-520c/kg cwt to average around 490c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $133-$145, with five lots selling over $140. Old lambs were in limited numbers and quality heavy weights made to $130.

Sheep quality was good, with all weights and grades offered. Sheep sold firm to $10 better, with light and medium Merino ewe mutton keenly sought. Merino wethers sold $4-$7 up on last week. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $47-$70. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $44-$87, or from 200-330c/kg. Merino mutton averaged 290-300c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $57-$88. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $73-$85 and medium weights made $57-$78 to average close to 300c/kg.

Dublin’s light trade lambs lift $10

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9580 lambs, 5714 fewer than last week, and 3019 sheep, 932 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said the reduced yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger competition from the usual buyers. The quality of the lambs offered was generally poor with a very large percentage of longer wool, unfinished crossbreds that attracted strong feeder and restocker interest. The few quality lambs attracted strong trade and processor interest.

Light weight crossbred lambs were plentiful and prices lifted $4 to $60-$88, with agents and feeder buyers keen to secure numbers. Prices for 3 score crossbred lambs with feeders lifted $7 to $94-$98. Light weight 3 scores sold to processors lifted $10 to $88-$100 to average 465c/kg cwt.

Light trade weight 4 scores lifted $10 to $105-$118, or 472c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores sold from $110-$130, to average 489c/kg. The few heavy weights sold from $128-$140 to average 490c/kg.

The plentiful light weight Merino lambs sold to feeders and restockers for $30-$62. Processors paid $34-$58 for light weight lambs sold and $82-$94, or 430c/kg, for light trade weight new season Merinos.

Old lambs were scarce. Heavy weight crossbreds sold from $89-$118 and Merinos made $98-$115, to average 421c/kg. Heavy weight crossbred hoggets sold up to $96 and Merinos made $84-$99.

The generally good quality yarding of sheep sold to easing processor demand from fewer buyers. Restockers were cautiously active on heavy ewes at $42-$60. Light weight 2 score ewes remained unchanged at $35-$60, averaging 203c/kg. Heavy weight 3 score ewes remain virtually unwanted at $50-$70, averaging 200c/kg.

Wethers were scarce. Heavy weight 3 scores lifted $6 to $65-$85, averaging 255c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold to processors for $20-$35. A draft of Merino rams went to a restocker for $82-$98.

Naracoorte’s trade lambs $5-$10 dearer

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,508 lambs, 4535 more than last week, and 1967 sheep, 471 more.

The NLRS said more trade and processor buyers, and restockers, competed in the sale. Quality was mixed, with some excellent heavy lambs and large lines of store types starting to show signs of the dry conditions. Prices lifted across the market.

Light weight lambs ranged from $60-$102. Light weight 2 and 3 score lambs made $95-$116. Restockers paid $5-$8 more than last week to buy most of these lambs.

Trade weight 3 score lambs were $5-$10 dearer at $102-$124, or 500c/kg cwt. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $115-$136. Export weight lambs sold $10 dearer at $129-$146. Hoggets sold to $85.

Ewe prices lifted $5, with light weight 1 and 2 score lines making $29-$45. Medium weight 2 and 3 score ewes mainly made $55-$72, at an average of 290c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes sold from $65-$80. Rams sold to $60.

Muchea’s lambs sell firm to $4 dearer

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7195 lambs, 466 more than last week, and 6600 sheep, 100 more.

The NLRS said dry conditions continue and numbers of light store lambs increased this week. New season lambs were mostly light weight and lighter trade weights with a large proportion in store condition showing dryness. Mutton weight was lower with more ewes, lighter conditioned and shorter skinned. All the usual buyers were active. However, there was minimal live export activity. Restockers and feeders purchased solid numbers of suitable lambs and ewes.

Lambs generally sold firm to $4 dearer. Light store lambs to restockers made $15-$55 to be firm. Light lambs sold to processors and feeders were mostly dearer by close to $5 at $60-$87. Trade weight lambs sold from $81-$105 to be $3 dearer, with a reasonable number going to feeders. Heavy lambs were limited and sold to a top of $126. More shorn trade lambs were offered and sold well at $86-$95.

Restocker competition lifted ewe prices by $2-$5. Light categories made $38-$49 and the 2 score medium weight sheep sold to processors for $43-$60. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes made $52-$71, a lift of close to $6. Restockers lifted prices for ewe hoggets and young mature ewes by $2-$4 to $30-$72.

Wether prices firm and ram rates eased. Wether demand from export feeders remained solid with heavy bare shorn drafts making $85-$95. Lighter drafts sold from $62-$95, depending on weight and skin value. Heavy wethers with a good skin sold to a top of $113. Rams lacked demand with ram lambs making $77 and those suitable for export feeders $25-$70. Old rams sold to processors for $5-$25.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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