Lamb prices slump as new season draft turn-off heats up

Sheep Central September 16, 2015
These 20.6kg cwt May-June-drop White Suffolk cross lambs at Bennala, Victoria, sold for $110 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These 20.6kg cwt May-June-drop White Suffolk cross lambs at Bennala, Victoria, sold for $110 on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

LAMB prices slumped in saleyards early this week as the new season turn-off gained momentum in New South Wales and in central Victoria.

Old lamb rates fell up to $20, and prices for heavy young lambs slumped by up to $17, as increased new season drafts hit markets and producers turned off heavy older lambs to subdued exporter enquiry.

Fewer heavy lambs made over $150 as some exporters were either quiet or didn’t operate and all buyers discounted plain older lambs.

New season trade weight lambs were less affected by the price slump and confident restockers underpinned many markets, purchasing light and trade weight lambs as domestic buyer bidding also waned.

Restockers paid up to 787c/kg and up to 713c/kg at Dublin’s SA Livestock Exchange and to 700c/kg at Naracoorte, for lambs up 12kg cwt.

At the Dubbo saleyards, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted all 12.1pg-plus slaughter lambs as making less than 580c/kg in a yarding that contained more Merino and old lambs. Tamworth and Inverell’s smaller lamb offerings suffered similar fates.

Elsewhere in New South Wales, at Corowa and Forbes, light 12.1-18kg new season lambs made 453-688c/kg. Trade weight young lambs made better than 600c/kg at Corowa, Bendigo, Ballarat and Dublin.

Dubbo stock agent Angus Barlow, from Barlow and Eadon Schute Bell, said increased offerings of Merino lambs and hoggets contributed to the cheaper market, and one exporter had not bid at the centre for the past two weeks.

“They have obviously got plenty around them in the south of the state.

“There were a lot of Merinos and a lot of hoggets – thousands and thousands of hoggets.”

Forbes stock agent Scott Reid, from VC Reid and Son, said lighter and plain lambs, and heavy old lambs, were the most affected by the price drop, by up to $20 a head. But he said the new season lambs were top quality.

“There are more new season lambs coming on line at the moment and areas east and south of here are starting to yard numbers.

“And the over-the-hook price has been pretty solid at 600-610c/kg and blokes are taking that, and the buyers are getting enough supply at the moment.”

Restockers paid up $118 for sucker lambs at Forbes, with one agent buying a B-double truck load of “pretty hand lambs” that would average at least $110, he said.

“I think that is getting up there a bit, but they’ve got confidence in the job.”

Mr Reid said the new season lambs were cheaper yesterday, but the old export weight draft prices fell by up to $20.

“The blokes who had heavy export weight lambs here yesterday, I don’t understand why they do that – why did they still have them?

“They could have sold them a month earlier: I know they would have been lighter, but they would have got more money for them,” he said.

NLRS indicators drop for trade and export lambs

By the end of Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the NLRS Eastern States Daily Indicators for the main slaughter lamb categories had fallen again, with rises in the restocker, light and Merino categories reflecting the confidence among traders. The ESDIs for lamb are: restocker 586c/kg, up 5 cents; Merino 517c/kg, up 2c; light 544c/kg, up 4c; trade 573c/kg, down 2c; heavy 570c/kg, down 3c. The national trade lamb indicator dropped 2 cents to 573c/kg and the heavy indice closed on 570c/kg, down 3 cents.

The ESDI for mutton finished on 381c/kg, down 2 cents and the national indicator is on 378c/kg, also down 2 cents,

Dubbo’s old lambs slump $20, suckers down $12-$14

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 38,500 lambs, 7870 more than last week, and 8200 sheep, 880 more.

The NLRS said the good quality yarding had a good selection of new season and old lambs. Merino lambs were also well-supplied, although there were not the numbers of extra heavy weight crossbreds compared to previous sales. The market was cheaper.

Light weight lambs were $12 cheaper, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 score lambs selling from $66-$88. New season lambs were $12-$14 cheaper, with trade weights making $87-$136 to average 532c/kg cwt. Heavy weight new season lambs sold to $150.

Heavy weight old lambs were $16-$20 cheaper, with the over 22kg 4 scores making $116-$155. Merino lambs were up to $15 cheaper, with trade weights selling from $75-$116. Heavy weight Merinos sold to $135. Restockers paid to $104 and hoggets sold to $116.

Most grades of sheep sold $8-$12 cheaper in the mainly good quality yarding. The 2 score ewes sold from $44-$70. The better 3 and 4 score crossbred ewes sold from $70-$118 and Merinos made to $110. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $92-$120.

Corowa’s new season trade weights ease $2-$5

At the Corowa saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 9724 lambs, 3324 more than last week, and 4261 sheep, 1461 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality improved with the sunny weather conditions. Around 7000 new season lambs were offered, including good numbers of medium and heavy trade weights. Reasonable numbers of heavy weights were also penned, along with a few good extra heavy new season lambs. Old lambs were very mixed and prices varied considerably on the quality. The market was cheaper and not all the usual buyers operated.

New season medium and heavy trade weights eased $2-$5, from $107-$149. Heavy new season lambs sold from $132-$155 and extra heavy weights reached $161.60. Most ranged from 545-570c/kg cwt.

Old lambs eased $3-$6, although some of the plainer heavy lambs eased more. The medium and heavy trade weights sold from $95-$124. Heavy weights made $123-$143, or 505-525c/kg.

Mutton quality was very good, with plenty of sheep having good cover. The better covered sheep eased $4, while plainer and lighter weights fell up to $10. Medium weight 3 score sheep sold from $78-$104 and heavy Merinos reached $123. Most made 365-390c/kg cwt.

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

At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2980 lambs, 1020 fewer than last week, and 1000 sheep, 350 more.

The NLTS said lamb quality was generally good and the offering had a large percentage of well-finished young lambs. The usual buyers operated, but demand was weaker.

Young trade weight lambs sold to a cheaper trend, down $5-$7. Heavier weights eased by as much as $8. Good quality old lambs sold up to $10 cheaper.

The small penning of grown sheep was very mixed in quality and condition. The market was also generally cheaper. Some light weight sheep were dearer, with buyers looking to fill trucks.

Forbes’s trade lambs up to $20 cheaper

At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 30,170 lambs, 1099 fewer than last week, and 7850 lambs, 473 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality remained fairly similar to previous sales. There was a good number of well-finished lambs, though a larger percentage showed signs of seed and burr contamination. Trade and heavy weight lambs were well-supplied. The usual buyers competed along with restockers in a significantly cheaper market. There were 13,770 new season lambs penned.

New season lambs sold to restockers sold from $91-$117. Light lambs slipped $7 to $102-$114. Trade weights generally sold $10-$15 easier and up to $20 in places, at $115-$138. Heavy lambs also fell $15 to sell from $130-$143. Carcase prices ranged from 536-552c/kg cwt.

Old lamb prices generally fell $10-$15 and up to $20 in places. Light lambs sold from $94-$125. Trade weights ranged from $94-$125. Heavy lambs made $124-$155. Merino lambs sold from $89-$118.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was mixed, though there were some handy lines. Merino ewes sold from $74-$121. Crossbreds made $74-$109. Dorper ewes sold from $70-$90. Merino wethers made $73-$107.

Inverell’s old lambs fall $15-$20

At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 3062 lambs, 603 more than last week, and 1466 sheep, 404 more.

The NLRS said the lamb offering include a fair supply of well-finished young lambs and good numbers of heavy and extra heavy old lambs. Overall the quality of the lambs was good, but some lambs carried quite a bit of seed in the skin. The usual buyers attended, but demand was much weaker for all classes. Market trends were much cheaper than the previous sale held two weeks ago, although there were no young lambs at that sale to compare to.

Price falls in the old lambs were in line with other centres over the past two weeks with corrections of $15-$20 and more in places.

The trend was the same for grown sheep, with demand and competition much weaker. An oversupply in the processing system was the major contributing factor.

A feature of the offering was some well-finished medium and heavy weight Merino wethers. Market trends were significantly cheaper.

Bendigo’s young trade and export lambs fall $10-$17

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 17,233 lambs, 5678 more than last week, and 13,098 sheep, 2715 more.

The NLRS said new season lambs dominated the yarding. Most of the young lambs were trade and lighter weight types, with only a small selection of export weight pens. While all the regular buyers attended, competition was selective and there was very little bidding from the main export companies.

Prices for young trade and export slaughter lambs fell by $10-$17. However, increased restocker demand helped keep values for store lambs similar to a week ago, with some of the smallest lambs to the paddock dearer than last week.

The market reached a top of $151 for a pen of heavy young lambs — one of only two sales over $150. Competition from exporters was subdued and heavy young lambs over 24kg cwt sold from $140-$151 to record the biggest price correction on the day, despite limited numbers.

The lead runs of medium trade weight lambs sold mostly sold from $131-$141, with the general run of domestic slaughter lambs from $115-$130. On a carcase basis, most young lambs ranged from 520-550c/kg, based on skin returns of $8-$10.

Restocker demand increased, with orders from Ballarat, Shepparton, Bendigo, Echuca, South Australia and Tasmania. Some store buyers pushed into light trade weight lambs at up to $104-$116.20, while the general run of young lambs to the paddock ranged from $88-$100. Some sales of very small store lambs under 12kg cwt were considerably dearer week-on-week.

The yarding of old season lambs was very mixed, with most coming through in small pens as final drafts are sold. Prices reached a top of $142 in a cheaper market and carcase rates averaged under 500c/kg cwt for most lambs.

The sheep include more recently shorn ewes. Export buyers were more active on mutton and prices were mostly similar to a few dollars dearer for the main lines of quality trade weight slaughter sheep. Some sheep were also bought by meat buyers to go back to the paddock for a few weeks before being processed.

Extra heavy crossbred ewes sold from $102-$120, while Merino ewes in a big skin topped at $124 and recently shorn wethers reached $115. The quality lines of trade mutton mostly sold from $77-$90 at an estimated 360-400c/kg cwt.

Ballarat lamb prices fall $10-$15

At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7660 lambs, 4656 more than last week, and 5495 sheep, 1461 more.

The NLRS said the lamb yarding more than doubled with more young lambs and quality was average. Most of the usual buyers operated in a cheaper market, which was at times $10-$15 back on last week. Heavy trade weight and export lambs were in limited numbers, with more lambs suitable to processors and restockers.

Restockers and feeders were active, paying $99.50-$118 for light and trade weights, and from $40-$80 for lighter lots. Light weight 2 score young lambs sold from $71-$90. Light trade 2 and 3 score young lambs sold from $90-$118 and averaged around 550c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score young lambs sold from $119-$129 and heavier lots made $136-$140, or 530-580c/kg to average around 545c/kg. Export 4 score young lambs sold to $144, or around 520c/kg. There are still a few pens of old lambs coming forward and the heavier lots made $126-$141.

The sheep yarding included all weights and grades. Restockers paid from $90-$121 for Merino and crossbred ewes, and from $65.50-$99.50 for Merino wethers.  Lighter sheep sold a few dollars easier, with most other weights generally firm.  Heavy Merino wethers sold to $129. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $46-$78. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $65-$97, or 300-410c/kg, with Merino mutton averaging around 385c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $79-$132. Heavy Merino wethers made $106-$129 and the medium weights sold from $72-$80, or 380-400c/kg. Rams sold from $47.50-$100.

Dublin’s light lambs lift $4 to trade

In South Australia at the SA Livestock Exchange, Dublin, the agents yarded 11,581 lambs, 2583 more than last week, and 3000 sheep, 795 more.

The NLRS said the larger yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs lacked the polish of last week and sold to easing competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. One processor didn’t operate and there was only limited supermarket participation.

Feeders and restockers from as far afield as Mount Gambier competed on suitable light weight, new season crossbreds at prices marginally cheaper than the previous week. Light weight crossbred, new season lambs sold to feeder buyers at $72 to $106, down $4.

Light weight 3 scores sold to trade buyers for $100-$110, or around 506c/kg cwt, up $4. Light trade weight 4 scores eased $6 to $105-$115 and averaging 481c/kg. Heavy trade weights eased $12 to $110-$134, averaging 483c/kg. Heavy weights eased $15 to $120-$140 to average 489c/kg.

Light weight, new season Merino lambs sold to feeders and restockers from $43-$68. Light weights bought by processors eased $5 to mostly $70-$88, and one exceptional pen sold at $100.

Old crossbred lambs continue to find buyer resistance. Trade and heavy weights eased up to $9 to $102-$144. Trade weight Merinos eased up to $18 to $90-$115 and heavy weights eased $7 to $108-$124, or 423-435c/kg.

The yarding of good quality sheep sold to easing processor competition. All of the usual buyers attended, but bidding was only cautious. Light weight 2 score ewes eased $6 to $65-$72 to average 285c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 scores eased $13 to $75-$92 to average 292c/kg. Heavy weight wethers eased $5 to $100-$124 to average 373c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $78-$83.

Naracoorte’s lamb prices ease

At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 4034 lambs, 1637 more, and 1171 sheep, 254 fewer.

The NLRS said most lambs were new season drafts, with some excellent quality and weights. These sold to the usual trade and processor buyers, with restockers also active throughout the market. Prices eased across all categories.

Restockers paid $57-$98 for light weight new season lambs. Light weight 2 and 3 score lambs sold to the trade for $96-$106. Trade weight 3 score lambs made $104-$130 at an average of 520c/kg cwt. All these prices were $10-$12 easier than last week.

Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $125-$144, with export weight lambs making to $148, firm to $2 easier. Light weight old lambs made $68-$98 and light weight Merinos sold from $55-$79. Light weight 2 and 3 score old lambs to the trade ranged from $95-$105, with similar weighted Merinos ranging from $86-$94. Trade weight 3 score old lambs sold from $93-$114 at an average of 490c/kg. Heavy 4 score old lambs made $113-$125.

Hoggets sold from $72-$110. Light weight wethers ranged from $54 to $70 and heavier types $73-$84. Light weight ewes to the trade ranged from $53-$70. Medium weight 2 and 3 score crossbred ewes made $60-$87 and similar weight Merinos sold from $65-$79, or 320c/kg cwt. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $84-$95 and heavy crossbred ewes made to $102. Rams sold from $65-$75.

Muchea lamb competition eases

In Western Australian at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6500 lambs, 500 fewer than last week, and 6678 sheep, 748 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was much better, with most being prime heavy and trade new season drafts. All buyers were present but competition reduced in all categories except for rams, lighter weight store lambs and wethers.

Prices for lamb, ewe and export wether drafts decreased by $5-$10 on average. Light new season lambs sold from $55-$96, with most sales firm to $3 easier. Trade young lambs made $90-$118 to be back close to $8 and average about 500c/kg cwt. Heavy young lambs sold to $125 and were also back $7. Old lamb quality was mixed, with the trade weight drafts making $75-$110, back to 450c/kg cwt for most.

Mutton quality was also good, with ewe weight and quality similar to last week and wethers spread from very good to plain. Ewe prices eased, with the light weight drafts making from $30-$65. The medium weight 2 score processor mutton sold from $50-$75, back $6 and close to 295c/kg cwt. Better-conditioned ewes, including the heavy weight drafts, sold $9 easier and made $66-$92. Higher-priced ewes carried skins valued at up to $15. Restockers were active on ewe hoggets and suitable mature drafts, with good young ewes making $50-$86 and mature drafts $40-$88 to remain close to firm week on week.

Wether prices were mixed, with the bare shorn export weight drafts easing around $5 to $80-$100 and longer wool drafts making to $121. Lighter and store wethers sold from $70-$110 depending on weight and wool length.

Ram lambs reached $105 for heavy processor drafts, while live exporters and feeders paid $40-$100 for suitable younger drafts. Processors paid $20-$55 for older rams.

Tasmania’s lamb markets $10-$15 cheaper

At the northern Tasmanian saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 330 lambs, 90 fewer than last week, and 130 sheep, 70 less.

There were very small lamb and sheep numbers at Powranna and Killafaddy as the old lamb season comes to an end and no new season lambs are coming to the market as yet.

The lamb market was $10-$15 cheaper than last week’s very strong sale, with the exception of a few extra heavy pens. Trade lambs sold from $107-$134, heavy weights $130-$139 and extra heavy weights made from $143-$152.

Mutton numbers have been limited for some weeks, as most of the culling was done during the winter.  The very few sheep sold from $85-$91.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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