Lamb prices turn around on lower supply and quality

Sheep Central, March 11, 2016
These August-September drop early February shorn Poll Dorset cross lambs, 13kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $98 at Goulburn, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

These August-September drop early February shorn Poll Dorset cross lambs, 13kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $98 at Goulburn, NSW, on AuctionsPlus yesterday.

LAMB prices began to turn around in saleyards mid-week as supply tightened further and some centres yarded more well-finished late new season lambs and quality supplementary fed old drafts.

Lamb yardings dropped dramatically at saleyards in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia in the last two days – including by 27pc in Carcoar and 24 percent at Wagga; by 44pc at Horsham and 25pc at Hamilton, and by 42pc in Katanning.

Sheep yardings have fallen also, though only by 14pc at Wagga and 18pc at Carcoar in NSW. In Victoria, the drop in saleyard mutton supply has been more dramatic, by 52pc at Horsham and 35pc at Hamilton. Katanning’s sheep offering fell by 30pc this week.

Demand is still strongest for scarce quality trade lambs, supported by strong restocker and feedlot competition for prime light and medium drafts. Domestic processors continue to push more into heavier lines to get quality, avoiding secondary plainer trade weights.

NLRS indicators lift

The National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for most lamb categories improved mid-week, with mutton mostly firm. Only the restocker lamb indicator declined.

After Thursday’s sales, the ESDIs for lambs were: restocker 516c/kg, down 6 cents; Merino 470c/kg, up 3c; light 500c/kg, up 9c; trade499c/kg, up 1c; heavy 501c/kg, up 3c. The national trade lamb indicator rose 1 cents to close on 499c/kg and the heavy indice finished on 501c/kg, up 2 cents.

The ESDI for mutton finished down 1 cent to 287c/kg and the national indice improved 1 cent to 288c/kg.

Carcoar’s best trade lambs lift $2

In New South Wales at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7350 lambs, 2750 fewer than last week, and 5100 sheep, 1100 less.

The NLRS said it was a fair quality yarding, with some top heavy weight lambs and well-finished trade weight new season lambs in fresh condition. There were also a good percentage of lighter weights suited to restockers. Not all the regular buyers were operating in a mostly cheaper market.

Light weight lambs sold to processors were $5-$8 cheaper, with the 12-18kg 2 scores selling from $50-$81. Trade weight old lambs were $3 cheaper, with the 18-22kg 3 scores making $85-$126. The good runs of fresh new season lambs were $2 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $83-$126. Heavy weight lambs were $2 cheaper with the over 22kg 4 scores making $115-$160, to average 480c/kg cwt.

Restockers bought lambs in prime condition. They paid from $46-$119 for light weight lambs. Hoggets sold to $102.

It was a much plainer quality yarding of mutton, with only a limited number of prime sheep. The market was tough with most grades falling $16. The 2 score ewes sold from $20-$51 and the better 3 and 4 score crossbred sold from $44-$95 and Merinos made to $79. Prime conditioned Merino wethers sold to $98.

Wagga’s extra heavy lambs lift $5

At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 23,000 lambs, 7350 fewer than last week, and 8000 sheep, 1300 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with extremely high temperatures over the past fortnight having an impact on finish. However, grain-fed lambs presented in prime condition. There was a fair number of trade lambs and heavy lambs were well-supplied. Light lambs suitable to restock and feed were keenly sought by local buyers. Well-finished trade lambs still commanded the attention of most buyers, while drier types lacked buyer support.

Lamb prices improved $4 on average, with medium and heavy trade lines making from $110-$135, to average around 500c/kg. There was a reasonable number of Merino lambs and trade buyers paid from $92-$123.

Plenty of store lambs lacked condition, but this didn’t deter buyers, who paid from $66-$77.20. Well-bred lambs suitable to restock and feed sold from $96-$115. Plainer light weight lambs suitable for slaughter sold up $4 dearer, with the better covered types making $77-$98. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were well represented, with good supplies over 30kg cwt. Heavy lambs were mostly a few dollars dearer, making from $133-$149. Extra heavy lambs sold $5 dearer, selling from $142-$177.80 to mainly range from 475-505c/kg.

It was a very mixed quality offering of mutton, with all grades represented. Light and medium sheep sold mostly unchanged to a few dollars cheaper, or 259-290c/kg. Heavy ewes and wethers sold from $65-$100, or 280c-307c/kg.

Hamilton’s heavy lambs $5-$10 dearer

In Victoria at the Hamilton saleyards, the agents yarded 7,222 lambs, 2495 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said a much better quality yarding of lambs sold to a near-full group of trade and processor buyers. Prices showed a mostly dearer trend as there were some very good pens of shorn trade and heavy weight lambs for slaughter off supplementary fed systems which met the most competition. There seemed to be more activity from export and domestic buyers in the market to obtain heavier weighted carcasses, lifting the sale. The offering overall was made up of lambs showing more cover and less light lambs compared to previous weeks.

Light weight lambs were $3-$8 dearer, light trades were firm, medium trade weights were $4-$5 better and heavy lambs sold $5-$10 higher. Competition was stronger from restockers from south east South Australia, Shepparton and local areas to pay $58-$100 for better covered store lambs and $36-$72 for the very light 1 scores, averaging close to 550c/kg. They also purchased some young Merino hoggets for $50-$70. The light weight 2 score lambs made $88-$100, while the light trade weight 2 and 3 scores sold from $96-$125. Medium to heavy trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $120-$136, or 495-541c/kg, to average 525c/kg. The heavier 3 and 4 score lambs made from $135 to a market top of $148 for lambs estimated at 27kg cwt. These heavy lambs averaged an estimated 515c/kg. Hoggets, 2 and 3 score, sold from $62-$110.

Horsham lamb prices generally firm

At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 3449 lambs, 2726 fewer than last week, and 1387 sheep, 729 less.

The NLRS said most of the usual buyers attended and operated in generally firm market, with trade and heavy lambs selling a few dollars either side of firm. Quality was mixed, but a few pens of well-presented lambs were offered. The best extra heavy lambs reached $170 and the trade weights sold to $134. Quality Merino lambs reached $121. Feeder and restocker activity was limited to a few pens of lambs at $76-$107.

Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $85-$88. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs made $90-$112 and averaged around 520c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $112-$124 and heavier drafts made $123.50-$134, or 500-550c/kg, to average around 525c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $135-$155, with extra heavy export lambs making to $170.

The limited number of sheep sold to keen competition, with most prices firm to $5 up on last week. Joined Dohne ewes reached $111 and young Merino wethers returned to the paddock from $68-$82. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $47-$65. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $66-$95, or 280-330c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 310c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $55-$106, heavy Merino ewes made $83-$100 and medium weight Merino wethers sold to $75.50.

Ouyen’s slaughter lambs sell firm

Landmark's Ouyen team sold Piers Farnworth's 68 crossbred lambs for $149 this week.

Landmark’s Ouyen team sold Piers Farnworth’s 68 crossbred lambs for $149 this week.

At the Ouyen Livestock Exchange on Thursday, the agents yarded 4942 lambs and 1894 sheep.

Prices for export and trade lambs held firm. Lighter weight lambs were firm to $5 cheaper. Mutton was firm.

Crossbred export lambs sold from $130-$173.60, or 490-510c/kg cwt, and trade lambs made $94-$138. Store lambs sold for $56-$104, or 500-530c/kg. Light Merino lambs sold from $40-$111, or 450-480c/kg, and heavy lines made $112-$128, or 470-480c/kg.

At the OPuyen sheep and lamb sale this week were, from left, Samara Pohlner holding Mallie Gallow, Joan Pohlner and Renae Galloway.

At the OPuyen sheep and lamb sale this week were, from left, Samara Pohlner holding Mallie Gallow, Joan Pohlner and Renae Galloway.

Light sheep sold from $20.60-$68, or 290-320c/kg, and heavy lines made $70-$93, or 260-290c/kg.

Hamilton’s medium and heavy sheep prices lift

At the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 4233 sheep, 2353 fewer than last week.

The NLRS said the usual buyers were offered a very mixed yarding of all grades and weights, but mostly Merino sheep varying from recently shorn to almost full wool. Prices were $1-$2 easier for the very light sheep and firm for light weights. Medium trade weights lifted $2-$4 and heavier mutton was $2-$3 dearer in a consistent sale.

Restocker activity was limited. Very light 1 score sheep sold from $12-$45 and the light weight 1 and 2 scores made $45-$66. Medium weight 2 and 3 score mutton made from $61-$80 with longer wool ewes selling from $86-$94, or 248-338c/kg cwt, averaging an estimated 300c/kg. The heavy 3-5 score sheep made from $74-$92, averaging around 280c/kg. Medium weight Merino wethers generally sold from $70-$92 and a pen of longer wool wethers sold to a market top of $98, averaging 322c/kg. Hoggets sold from $74-$101. The better Merino rams sold from $63-$87 and other breed rams made $35-$70.

Katanning lamb quality mixed

In Western Australia at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 4000 sheep, 3000 fewer than last week, and 5368 sheep, 2305 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with many being light weight store Merino drafts and crossbred drafts lacked finish. Most buyers operated, but competition for better lambs from processors was very selective and easier. Feeders purchased a solid percentage of the forward store lambs and lifted values slightly.

Light store lambs, mostly Merino, sold to strong competition, with wether drafts making $40-$69 and the ewe portion from $15-$45. Light lamb sold to air freight processors and feeders from $65-$95 and remained firm. Trade weight lambs sold to processors for $85-$107 or close to 465c/kg and heavy lambs made $96-$112. Most of the trade weight lambs were unfinished and sold to feeders from $90-$100 or 450c/kg.

The sheep yarding included some good heavy weight, plainer and light weight ewes. Ewe prices were mostly firm. Heavy weight ewe prices were back on last week, but other mutton and wethers remained equal. Light weight ewes sold from $19-$54 and 2 score processor mutton made $48-$75 to be firm at close to 250c/kg. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes were around $5 cheaper at $70-$83.

Restockers purchased young ewes from $30-$62. Mature ewes with a solid fleece made to $75, with most making $35-$65.

Wethers remained equal, with most going to feeders and restockers. Heavy wethers made $85-$103 and the lighter and store drafts sold from $50-$84. The better rams sold to export feeders made $30-$74 and processors paid $5-$30 for old rams.

Warwick lambs cheaper

In Queensland at the Warwick saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2162 lambs and hoggets, and 1439 sheep.

All sheep and lambs sold cheaper in the larger yarding and a top price of $122 was paid for lambs from C. and F. Magnussen of The Summit.

Crossbred lambs 46-55kg lwt sold from $110-$122, the 42-45kg lambs made $100-$111, 36-42kg lambs sold for $91-$97 and 35-40kg lines ranged from $84-$96.

Shorn crossbred hoggets, 67.5kg, sold to $84. Trade wethers with $18 skins sold to $104, or 310c/kg, and light wethers with $4 skins made to $49, or 285c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes with $6 skins sold to $82, or 295c/kg, and light ewes with $8 skins made to $48, or 280c/kg.

Source: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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