SALEYARD lamb prices continued to trend lower late last week as quality and supply declined.
Competition was weaker from fewer buyers, with prices for trade lambs falling $3-$9 at the Cowra and Griffith saleyards on Friday, and heavy lamb rates losing up to $13.
Quality is declining in most old lamb grades, with heavy lambs least-affected. At Cowra, the National Livestock Reporting Service said 18.1-22kg new season trade lambs with $5-$6 skins selling for $124-$145, or 626-665c/kg cwt, and a 22.1-24kg line with $6 skins making $158 or 661c/kg.
After Friday’s sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators were all slightly lower, capping off big corrections for the week ranging from 33-57c/kg, though still leaving the trade and heavy lamb indicators above 600c/kg.
The ESDIs for lamb, their daily and weekly changes are: restocker 520c/kg, down 3 cents, down 57c; Merino 560c/kg, down 3c, down 39c/kg; light 547c/kg, down 3c, down 49c; trade 607c/kg, down 2c, down 33c; heavy 623c/kg, down 4c, down 32c. The national trade lambs indicator lost 1 cent on Friday to finish on 609c/kg and the heavy lamb indice closed down 4 cents to 624c/kg.
The national mutton indicator improved 1 cent to 383c/kg, as did the ESDI for mutton, to finish on 384c/kg, a 12-cent decline for the week.
AuctionsPlus bidders seek good scanning ewes and ewe-lamb units
Sheep and lamb listings increased by 942 head to 29,627 on AuctionsPlus last week.
Merino ewes were in strong supply, leading to intense bidding activity from restockers as they fought to source replacement breeders. Young Merino ewes sold from $100-$173, averaging $153. The top-priced line was 400 unmated early February shorn 12-14 month-old ewes, 45.6kg lwt and mostly score 3, at Moulamein in New South Wales.
Older merino ewes averaged $126 and made to $158 for 235 mid-March shorn 5-6 year-old Pemcaw blood ewes at Dubbo, NSW, that weighed 60.1kg lwt, were mostly score 3, and scanned in lamb 167 percent in lamb to Border Leicester rams.
Merino ewes and lambs were also hot property last week, AuctionsPlus said. Prices averaged at $204 with the top-priced line of 114 two-year-old late-December shorn Glendemar MPM blood ewes at Bealiba, NSW, making $240. The ewes weighed 61kg and were mostly score 3, and had 132 sappy 5-9 week-old 22kg lwt Poll Dorset lambs.
Merino wether listings fell, but there were some strong results online. AuctionsPlus said Wool grower restockers splashed out last week, paying $130 for 245 early-November shorn 2 year-old Mt Bute blood wethers, 22.7kg cwt and mostly score 2, at Willaura in Victoria. Processors competed for heavier lines of finished grown Merinos online, paying $93.50 or 421c/kg cwt (including skin value), for 650 mid-May shorn Bullamon Plains blood wethers at Thallon in Queensland that weighted 22.2kg cwt and were mostly score 1. Processors also competed against restockers for heavier lines of cast-for-age Merino ewes.
AuctionsPlus said new season lambs are trickling onto the market in small numbers. Last week a line of 125 unshorn March-April drop Poll Dorset cross new season lambs, 14.3kg cwt and mostly score 2, at Temora in NSW sold for $111. Another 215 unshorn January-May 2016-drop Poll Dorset lambs, 12,4kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $96 at Rye Park in southern NSW.
Older store lambs weighing 35-37kg lwt made $85-$92.50, to average $89 or 246c/kg lwt including skin value, and 38-40kg lines sold for $76.50-$99.50, to average $88 or 225c/kg lwt.
Young first cross ewe prices were very strong online last week, ranging from $210-$252 and averaging $225. The $252 was paid for 274 15 month-old mid-November shorn 15-month-old ewes at Beckom in NSW. The 60.7kg lwt ewes were mostly score 3, and were scanned 156pc in lamb to Poll Dorset rams.
A line of 110 7-8 month-old unmated White Dorper future breeders from Moulamein, NSW, sold for $145. The Murray Downs blood ewes weighed in at 47.4 kg and were mostly score 4.
Top quality lines of Composite ewes made good money this week, with the top price of $231 being paid for 196 10-11 month-old mid-February shorn Chrome composite ewes lambs at Ballyrogan in Victoria. The ewes were scanned 100pc in lamb to White Suffolk rams.
Cowra’s heavy lambs $13 cheaper
In New South Wales at the Cowra saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 4150 lambs, 1670 fewer than last week, and 450 sheep, 330 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality was a little mixed. The heavy and new season lambs were well-presented, but there were some plainer lines. Most of the lambs were trade weights, including about 580 new season lambs. A few heavy weights were offered and the number of stores was very limited. Most buyers operated, but competition was generally softer in the cheaper market.
Light lambs sold $3 cheaper to processors, averaging $110. Trade weight new season lambs sold from $124-$158, averaging 650-660c/kg cwt. Medium and heavy trade weight old lambs sold firm to $9 cheaper and averaged 595-610c/kg. Most of the heavy trade weight lambs sold from $128-$142. Heavy weight lambs were $13 cheaper at 590-640c/kg. A few pens of extra heavy weight lambs sold from $180-$190.
Sheep quality varied. Medium weight Merino ewes averaged $71 or 345c/kg. Heavy first cross ewes averaged $101 or 340c/kg.
Griffith’s trade lambs $3-$6 lower
At the Griffith saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 4400 lambs, 5100 fewer than last week, and 1000 sheep, 100 less.
The NLRS said lamb quality reduced, with more plainer lambs offered with the few well-finished pens. The usual buyers competed in a cheaper market.
Light lambs slipped $3 to $107-$123. Trade weights were $3-$6 easier at $124-$148. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were $8-$10 easier for a lower quality offering. Heavy lambs sold from $150-$168. Extra heavy weights made $158-$197. Carcase prices ranged from 596-650c/kg.
Sheep quality was mixed. Merino ewes sold from $90-$120. Crossbreds made $95-$120 and Dorper ewes sold to $125.
Sources: MLA, MLRS, AuctionsPlus.