ALL lamb prices lift significantly in saleyards this week as rainfall limited yardings and processors competed keenly amid concerns about future supplies.
Carcase weight prices for many quality light, trade and heavy lambs ranged from 530-630c/kg cwt and higher at times in New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian saleyards.
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted all Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs and mutton as higher.
The ESDIs for lamb are: restocker 529ckg, up 3 cents; Merino 488c/kg, up 5c; light 521c/kg, up 5c; trade 530c/kg, up 5c; heavy 528c/kg, up 5c. The national trade lambs indicator lifted 3 cents to 533c/kg and the heavy indice finished up 9 cents to 537c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton lifted 2 cents to 343c/kg and the national indicator fell 4 cents to 339c/kg.
Over-the-hook rates lift as supply hunt intensifies
In NSW, the NLRS said lamb and mutton over-the-hook indicators improved this week, as last week’s dearer saleyard prices were boosted by rain. Higher rates for mutton will help meet the reported increased demand for sheep, NLRS said.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lamb are: 18-20kg, 490-540c/kg, up 10c/kg; 20-24kg, 500-540c/kg, up 10c; 24-26kg+, 500-530c/kg, up 6-10c; Merinos 16-22kg, 420-500c/kg, up 3c. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 210-320c/kg, up 15c; 18-24kg, 280-320c/kg, up 10c; 24kg+, 240-300c/kg, up 10c.
In Victoria, the NLRS said light and trade weight lamb over-the-hook categories lifted an average of 10c/kg cwt this week, while heavier weights and Merino lambs were unchanged. Contributors made upward adjustments across mutton categories, with the medium weight mutton indicator averaging 310c/kg cwt.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530-540c/kg, up 10c; 18-22kg, 530-550c/.kg, up 10c; 22-24kg, 500-550c/kg, no change; 24-26kg+, 510-520c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 480-520c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 280-290c/kg, up 13c; 18-24kg, 300-320c/kg, up 10c; 24kg+, 250-300c/kg, up 8c.
In South Australia, the NLRS said light weight and Merino lamb over-the-hook indicators jumped an average of 30c/kg cwt week-on-week, while trade and heavy weight categories moved 20c/kg cwt higher on average. Mutton categories also registered considerable increases, with lighter categories making the most gains.
SA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530c/kg, up 30c; 18-24kg, 530-550c/kg, up 20c; 24-26kg+, 510-530c/kg, up 20c; Merinos 16-22kg, 500c/kg, up 30c. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 230-340c/kg, up 48c; 18-24kg, 250-340c/kg, up 43c; 24kg+, 240-330c/kg, up 32c.
In Western Australia, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook rates for lambs and sheep as unchanged. 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, 420-460c/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 sheep and lambs as unchanged. Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-20kg, 490-520c/kg; 20-22kg, 490-510c/kg; 22-26kg, 480-500c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg; 14-24kg, 270-300c/kg; 24kg+, 260-270c/kg.
Rain turns lamb prices around at Forbes
Forbes stock agent Scott Reid from VC Reid and Son said rain had helped turn lamb and mutton prices.
“Numbers eased right off yesterday because we had 30mm-plus of rain in the area and Sunday and Monday.
“I don’t think the lambs are out there,” he said.
In this area and through most of central New South Wales, when the new season lambs were “on the run” from July to October last year, a lot of lambs were sold, with fewer shorn and kept back.
“The usual price drop didn’t happened late in the spring and so a lot of bloke who would normally keep around 50 percent of their lambs, shear them and keep them for 6-8 months, which would be about now, have already got rid of their lambs.
“There are the traders and the lucerne blokes on the rivers around here who buy a few in and have been keeping the numbers reasonable – but it has been difficult to buy a reasonably-priced store lamb in the last six month.”
Lambs are “definitely not here” in the same numbers as previous years, and NSW and Victoria had a “pretty dry pinch” in the last couple of months before the recent rain, he said.
“I’m not saying they are going to be as light as they were here yesterday, but I reckon we will struggle to yard 20,000 lambs for probably the next two months.”
Mr Reid also believed the new season lambs in the Forbes area would reach markets later this year due to the season, possibly about a month later.
Trade lambs sold $15-$20 dearer at Forbes yesterday, he said, with some lines making 600c/kg cwt or more. His agency sold some feedlot lambs yesterday out of the same pen as lambs sold last week.
“Last week they made $138 and they weighed 21.5-22kg cwt and yesterday the next draft made $156.
“They would have been similar carcase weights as the week before.”
Mr Reid said lamb producers were also under pressure to get crops in after the rain.
“It will be a good test to see how many numbers there are out there anyway.”
Elders Bendigo livestock manager Nigel Starick said lamb prices had to improve with the lower numbers. He believed Elders was on track to yard its usual numbers in coming weeks, but total Bendigo yardings would depend on the level of trading over the next few months.
“There is a bit more belief in the season now and there might be a bit of movement in the stock game.
“But lamb numbers are probably a little bit down on what had been anticipated because they have gone earlier.”
Dubbo’s heavy lambs lift $8
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 19,900 lambs, 5800 more than last week, and 8060 sheep, 2310 more.
Despite the increased yarding, the NLRS said numbers were back on the expected draw following recent rain. The pretty good quality yarding included some good heavy weight lambs and a fair selection of trade weights and Merinos. The market was strong.
Lightweight lambs sold to processors were $3-$5 dearer, with the 12-18kg 2 scores making $66-$106. Trade lambs were $3-$5 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores selling from $104-$138, to average around 543c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $8 dearer, with the over 22kg 4 scores selling from $136-$178. Merino lambs were $2-$3 dearer, with the trade weights making $101-$138. Heavy weight Merinos sold to $147. Hoggets sold to $120.
The mixed sheep yarding included most weights and grades. Most grades were $8-$10 dearer and more in places, with 2 score ewes selling from $30-$79. The better 3 and 4 score Merinos sold from $74-$127 and crossbred made to $125. Merino wethers sold to $120 and White Dorper wethers sold to $127.
Tamworth lamb prices significantly dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 2000 lambs, 50 fewer than last week, and 1600 sheep, 600 more.
The NLRS said the overall quality of the lamb offering was very mixed. There were limited supplies of well-finished trade and heavy weights. Demand for all classes of lamb was very strong from the usual buyers as supply concerns take effect.
All categories experienced strong price gains. Restockers also showed greater confidence. There was more variation in the quality of the lambs suitable to restock. The quality of the heavy and extra heavyweight lambs showed some improvement due to the low numbers, with prices significantly dearer.
Sheep were also in high demand, particularly among well-finished medium and heavy weight drafts. Prices in most categories were also significantly dearer, especially for heavy weights.
Forbes’ trade lambs lift up to $15
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9850 lambs, 12,458 fewer than last week, and 1750 sheep, 2198 less.
The NLRS said after good general falls of rain in the drawing area numbers showed a significant drop. Lamb quality was mixed in the yarding of well-finished and plainer lambs. Most of the usual buyers competed strongly in the dearer market.
Light lambs lifted $8 to sell from $100-$108. Trade weights were $6-$10 dearer and up to $15 in places. Prices ranged from $108-$138. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were also $10 dearer and more in places. Heavy lambs sold from $132-$152 with extra heavy weights making $142-$195. Carcase prices ranged from 520-554c/kg.
Sheep quality was very mixed. Prices jumped, with Merino ewes selling from $77-$139. Crossbred ewes made $85-$140 and Merino wethers $96-$128.
Inverell trade lambs sell up to $15 dearer
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1608 lambs, 820 fewer than last week, and 1776 sheep, 1221 more.
The NLRS said numbers dropped significantly after good general falls of rain in the drawing area. Quality was mixed in the lamb yarding of well-finished and plain lamb lines. Most of the usual buyers competed strongly in the dearer market.
Light lambs lifted $8 to $100-$108. Trade weights generally sold $6-$10 dearer and up to $15 higher at $108-$138. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were also $10 dearer and more in places. Heavy lambs sold from $132-$152 and extra heavy weights made $142-$195. Carcase prices ranged from 520-554c/kg.
Sheep quality was very mixed. Prices jumped, with Merino ewes selling from $77-$139. Crossbred ewes made $85-$140 and Merino wethers $96-$128.
Bendigo’s lambs lift $6-$9
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 10,649 lambs, 4068 fewer than last year, and 1930 sheep, 3220 less.
The NLRS said wet weather contributed to the smaller yarding of lambs and sheep; a decline of more than 7000 on a week ago. Quality was just average, with only limited pens of well-finished trade and export lambs. All the usual buyers attended, although when the market opened noticeably dearer some did not make purchases.
Lamb prices tracked $6-$9 above last week. The supply of heavy lambs was limited and prices reached at top of $169, lower in dollar per head terms than a week ago. However, there was less weight on offer and carcase prices lifted to 520-550c/kg across the general run of export lambs, which made $150-$168.
Domestic demand drove the market and the lead pens of heavy trade weight lambs sold from $133-$152. Medium trades made $118-$132. Carcase weight prices for trade weight lambs generally ranged from 535-560c/kg, with select pens out to 600c/kg. Demand for light weight slaughter lambs suiting Middle East export orders was strong, with most lambs making $88-$107, to average over 560c/kg. The best of the trade weight Merino lambs offering buyers good skin returns sold from $110-$130, averaging around 510-520c/kg.
Sheep quality was very plain, with most offered in smaller pen lots of mixed grades. The sale was dearer, with the better quality slaughter sheep estimated at 330-360c/kg cwt. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $90-$108 and the best Merino ewes made $82-$111.
Ballarat lambs improve $2-$10
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 15,706 lambs, 1787 fewer than last week, and 4826 sheep, 1752 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was average to good, with the regular buyers operating very keenly in damp conditions. Lambs mostly sold to a dearer trend being of $2-$10 on last week.
The best heavy lambs made to $200, with an estimated carcass weight of 36kg. Domestic orders were very strong this week and purchased heavier lambs to fill orders. The better covered trade weight lambs sold from $130-$158 and at times made over 600c/kg.
Restockers and feeders were active and paid mostly from $95-$105, and from $32-$70 for lighter lots. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $75-$98. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $94-$126 and averaged around 565c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $119-$140 with the heavier drafts making $130-$158, or 520-620c/kg, to average around 570-580c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs made from $142-$173, or around 560c/kg. The extra heavy export lambs sold from $182-$200, averaging around 520c/kg. Heavier Merino lambs sold to $132 and lighter weights made $90-$118, averaging around 550c/kg.
Quality was mixed in the sheep offering of all weights and grades. Sheep sold to strong demand to be $5-$10 up on last week and more in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $42-$91. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $62-$117 and ranged from 300-400c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 370c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep made from $77-$112 and heavy crossbred wethers sold to $140. Heavy Merino wethers made $96-$130 and medium weights sold from $72-$89 at around 370c/kg. Rams made to $90.
Dublin’s heavy lambs $2-$11 higher
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 10,000 lambs, 3000 fewer than last week, and 2000 sheep 1000 less.
The NLRS said the generally good quality crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger competition from the usual trade and processor buyers, plus an extra supermarket operator.
Trade and heavy weight crossbreds were eagerly pursued at dearer rates. However, demand for Merino lambs was less intense. Feeders and restockers were cautiously active and light weight, woolly Merinos attracted solid bidding. Light weight crossbred lambs sold to feeders for $42-$100. Light weight 3 scores lifted $5 to processors at $99-$104, averaging 481c/kg.
Light trade weight 4 scores were in demand from $114-$124, averaging 520c/kg. Heavy trade weights lifted $4 to $120-$145, averaging 541c/kg. Heavy weights lifted $2-$11 to $145-$175 and returned 528-543c/kg. Extra heavy weights sold from $165-$187.
Light weight Merino lambs sold to feeders and restockers for $46-$90 and processors paid $48-$98. Trade weight Merinos eased $3 to $88-$112, averaging 450c/kg. Heavy weights eased $6 to $102-$130, or 441-460c/kg. Hoggets were plentiful. Heavy weight Merino hoggets sold from $90-$104 and crossbreds made $106-$122.
The mixed quality sheep sold to strong competition from the usual processors. Light weight 2 score ewes lifted $8 to $75-$90, averaging 318c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 scores lifted $6 to $85-$114, to average 335c/kg. Heavy weight wethers lifted $11 to $92-$122, averaging 339c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold for $96-$108.
Naracoorte’s trade lambs sell to $125
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 893 lambs, 154 fewer than last week, and 670 sheep, 452 less.
The NLRS said only a small field of trade and processor buyers attended and not all were fully active. A small number of restocker orders provided some competition. Good weight and condition was very hard to find, with most lambs in store condition.
Light weight lambs ranged from $74-$107, with light weight trade 2 and 3 scores making $95-$108. Restockers paid $69-$95. Trade weight 3 score lambs were scarce and sold from mainly $104-$125, or an average of 530c/kg. The few heavy 4 score lambs sold up to $143 and a pen of extra heavy lambs made $170.
The sheep were generally good in quality and prices lifted. Light weight ewes sold from $24-$56 and medium weight types made $66-$75 at an average of 310c/kg cwt. Heavy ewes received good competition to make $75-$108, a lift of up to $5. Hoggets ranged from $96-$105, wethers sold to $104 and rams made $32-$70.
Muchea’s heavy lambs nearly $10 dearer
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1350 lambs, 350 more than last week, and 3450 sheep, 110 fewer.
The NLRS said most of the lamb yarding increase comprised light weight stores. Lamb quality declined on last week. All the usual buyers attended and restocker activity on light store lambs increased significantly. All other categories experienced solid competition with prices firm to dearer.
Light store lambs-restockers were up to $7 dearer, with Merino ewe drafts making $10-$62 and the wether and cross bred drafts $37-$72. Light lambs suitable for air freight, processors and feeders made $60-$98, mostly firm to $5 dearer. Trade weight lambs sold from $90-$122, to be firm to $4 dearer, or 490c/kg. Heavy lambs sold to $126, and finished nearly $10 dearer on average. Most better quality hoggets sold up to $5 dearer to the trade at $75-$100. A small extra heavy draft made $115.
Ewe quality was close to equal to last week and prices were mostly firm. Lighter drafts sold from $20-$53 and medium weight processor mutton made $49-$73. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes sold close to firm on average, with weight the reason for a top of $110 for some extra heavy cross bred ewes. Most heavy Merino ewe drafts sold from $79 and $94, averaging close to 305c/kg. Restockers picked up a small percentage of the ewe hoggets and suitable mature ewes for $30-$74, which was equal to last week.
Wether prices remained firm, with export weight drafts making $85-$95 and wethers with a big skin selling to $100. Wethers sold to restockers and feeders for $60-$93, equal to recent sales. Rams were in demand, with better ram lambs making $80-$105 and suitable for export weight lines selling for $30-$77. Old rams sold to processors for $20-$55.
Tasmania’s light lambs lift $10-$15
At the northern Tasmanian saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1350 lambs, 350 more than last week, and 450 sheep, 110 fewer.
The NLRS said there was some very good drafts of heavy lambs and a wide range of light and store types.
Most lambs met a similar market, except for light lambs that were keenly sought by exporters and restockers, improving $10-$15. Restockers paid $81-$99 for light lambs and $86-$99 for light trade types. Exporters paid $79-$90 for light lambs and $92-$96 for light trade types. Trade lambs made $94-$110. Heavy lambs made $111-$120 and extra heavy weights $121-$141.
Most mutton prices were firm. Very light ewes made $25-$42, light weights sold from $58-$73 and medium weights returned $65-$81.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.