Lamb prices vary on quality as processors balance purchases with direct supplies

Sheep Central, April 27, 2016
These 5-7 month-old Poll Dorset lambs, 16.8kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $107 at Cootamundra in NSW on AuctionsPlus.

These 5-7 month-old Poll Dorset lambs, 16.8kg cwt and mostly score 2, sold for $107 at Cootamundra in NSW on AuctionsPlus.

TRADE lamb prices were firm to easier, but heavy lambs were slightly dearer in New South Wales saleyards late last week and in the first sales after the Anzac Day holiday.

However, light lamb prices in the north continued to decline at most centres as the quality of offering was affected by the continuing dry conditions and restocker confidence waned with the season.

In Victoria, with the NLRS reporting processors have large numbers of lambs awaiting slaughter, light and trade lambs sold firm at Ballarat on Tuesday, but heavy lambs were $2-$5 easier.

Prices for all lambs generally lifted at the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin, but restocker lamb rates fell $12-$14 at Naracoorte.

Lamb prices in Western Australia were mainly firm, with most variations due to quality.

NLRS slaughter lamb indicators improve overall

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service’s Eastern States Daily Indicators for lambs were: restocker 472c/kg; Merino 465c/kg; light 495c/kg; trade 514c/kg; heavy 510c/kg. The National trade lamb indicator closed on 514c/kg and the heavy indice finished at 509c/kg.

The ESDI and national indicators for mutton are at 314c/kg.

AuctionsPlus offering declined last week

Online selling platform AuctionsPlus offered 51,057 sheep and lambs last week, just 7741 short of the previous week.

With only a light sprinkle of rain on central and southern New South Wales and eastern Victoria last week, the dry spell is continuing to take its toll on livestock sales.

AuctionsPlus said most of the online lots are coming from the south and more than half the lots offered were Merinos, with 37 percent Merino ewes. A number of outstanding lines of Cashmore Oaklea blood composite ewes scanned in lamb at Penola in South Australia drew strong buyer interest.

Merino ewe lambs sold from $54-$97.50 to average $79.50. Young proven breeders averaged $110, ranging from $70 to a top of $155 for 110 mid-September shorn three year-old Greenfields blood Merino ewes, 61.7kg lwt and all score 4, scanned 100pc in lamb to White Suffolk rams at Burra, South Australia.

Aged Merino ewes sold from $47.50-$139, with an average of $93.50. Merino wether lambs ranged from $45-$95.50, averaging $65. Wether hoggets made $56.50-$70.50, to also average $65.

First cross ewe lambs sold from $85-$180.50, with an average of $125. The top-priced line at Bealiba in Victoria was 195 9-10 month-old ewe lambs that weighed 48.7kg lwt were mostly score 2, mid-October shorn and scanned in lamb to White Suffolk rams. A line of 420 August-September drop unshorn first cross ewe lambs, 37.7kg and mostly score 1, made $135 at Bourke in New South Wales.

First cross ewes sold from $80-$222, with an average $120. The top-priced line of 148 3.5-4 year-old early October shorn ewes, 74.8kg lwt and mostly score 3, and 100pc scanned in lamb to Poll Dorset rams was sold at Penola in South Australia.

A line of 118 2.5-3 year-old composite ewes at Penola made to $227. These were also early October shorn, 75.2kg lwt and mostly score 3 and 4, and scanned in lamb to Poll Dorset rams. The vendor’s 247 3.5-4 year-olds made $224 and 238 4.5-5 year-olds sold for $191.

There was a smaller offering of store lamb this week. Lambs weighing 30-33kg lwt sold from $60-$86, with an average $77 or 246c/kg lwt including skin value. The 34-36kg lambs made $65-$105, averaging $85 or 242c/kg, and the 37-40kg lines sold for $86-$107, averaging $95 or 246c/kg. The heaviest lambs offered weighing over 40kg sold from $75-$105, averaging $92.50 or 224c/kg.

Forbes trade and heavy lambs hold firm

In New South Wales at the Forbes saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 31,170 lambs, 8920 more than last week, and 7830 sheep, 520 fewer.

The NLRS said lamb quality continued to be very mixed, showing the signs of the continuing dry conditions. There were some good runs of well-finished lambs, but a large percentage of the yarding showed dryness. The usual buyers competed in a fairly steady market.

Light lambs slipped $2-$3 to $93-$100. Trade weight prices were firm at $104-$127. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were well-supplied and also held steady. Heavy lambs sold from $125-$138 and extra heavy weights ranged from $135-$178. Carcase prices mostly ranged from 487-530c/kg cwt. Merino lambs sold from $95-$127.

The sheep were mostly Merinos and quality was again mixed. Prices were firm to slightly easier, with Merino ewes selling from $70-$108. Crossbreds sold from $70-$115. Merino wethers sold from $70-$96.

Cowra’s medium and heavy trade lambs firm to $3 easier

In the Cowra saleyard last Friday, the agents yarded 4300 lambs, 2500 fewer than last week, and 1300 sheep, 700 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed. The heavy lambs were well-presented, but the remainder lacked finish. Mainly trade and heavy weights were offered, with a reduction store lines. The usual buyers operated except for one and competition was sound, resulting in a generally firm market. The exception was the dearer rates for heavy lambs.

Light lambs sold to processors averaged $94 and stores averaged $61, down $4. Medium and heavy trade weights were firm to $3 easier and averaged 500-515c/kg. Most of the better heavy trade weight lambs sold from $115-$120. Heavy weights sold firm and extra heavy weights were $4 dearer, averaging 480-500c/kg. A pen of extra heavy lambs made $165 with an estimated carcase weight of 28kg.

Sheep quality continued to be variable. Medium Merino ewes were $4 dearer and sold from $69-$81 or 270-300c/kg. Medium first cross ewes averaged $72. Heavy weights averaged $89 or 280-300c/kg. .

Griffith trade and heavy lambs firm

At the Griffith saleyards last Friday, the agents yarded 7200 lambs, 2000 fewer than last week, and 1000 sheep, 600 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed with a good offering of supplementary-fed, well-finished lambs and the drier types. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs were well-supplied. The usual buyers competed in a variable but fairly steady market.

Light lambs sold from $95-$102. Trade weights held firm at $104-$125. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs also held steady. Heavy lambs sold from $127-$135. Extra heavy weights made $135-$173. Carcase prices averaged from 480-522c/kg. A large percentage of the yarding was Merino lambs that sold from $102-$144.

Sheep quality was mixed. Merino ewes sold from $78-$112 and crossbreds averaged $74. Dorper ewes sold to $92.

Ballarat’s heavy lambs $2-$5 easier

In Victoria at the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 24,396 lambs, 3675 more than last week, and 6704 sheep, 1595 fewer.

The NLRS said lamb offering included plainer light lambs, some very good trade weight and heavy lambs and many pens of quality extra heavy lambs.

The usual buyers operated in a market generally $2-$5 easier on the heavier end, amid reports of large numbers at the works awaiting slaughter. The lighter lambs and the better covered trade weight lambs sold mostly around last week’s levels. Trade weight lambs sold to $136 and the extra heavy lambs made to $184, with 14 pens making over $160.

Restockers and feeders were active and paid from $80-$115, with the lighter lots making $54-$70. Restockers also paid to $85 for Merino wether lambs. Most restocker lambs were a little dearer. Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $65-$90. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $80-$116 and averaged around 535c/kg. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $110-$122.50, with the heavier drafts making $122-$136, or from 500-570c/kg to average around 535c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $133-$158. Extra heavy lambs sold from $161-$184 and averaged around 480c/kg.

The sheep yarding included all weights and grades with several pens of scanned empty crossbred ewes. Merino ewes and wethers in near full wool were well-represented. Sheep mostly sold similar to last week, but in places Merino sheep in a big skin were a few dollars dearer. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $112 to also be a few dollars up on last week. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $42-$78. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $53-$102.50, or 260-370c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 320c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score sheep sold from $75-$110. Heavy Merino wethers made $104-$112 and the medium weights sold from $68-$105, averaging around 330c/kg. Rams made to $93.

Dublin lamb prices lift

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange in Dublin yesterday, the agents yarded 7886 lambs, 4114 fewer than last week, and 2445 sheep, 555 less.

The NLRS said the generally good quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger trade and processor bidding from the usual local and interstate buyers. One local processor set the tone on heavy weight crossbred lambs. Extreme heavy weight crossbreds estimated in excess of 35kg cwt sold up to $200.

Feeders and restockers had limited influence and mostly figured on light weight Merinos. Light weight crossbreds sold to feeders at $40-$90. Light weight 3 score lambs sold to processors from $85-$110 and averaged 465c/kg. Light trade weight 3 scores lifted $4 to $108-$122 and averaged 488c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores lifted $7 to $117-$140 and averaged 520c/kg. Heavy weight 4 scores sold from $129-$155 or 498-507c/kg. Extreme heavy weights sold from $160-$200. Light weight Merinos sold to restockers for $30-$78. Light weights lifted $8 to processors, making $80-$114 to average 482c/kg. Trade weights sold from $100-$128, or 441-490c/kg. Heavy weights sold from $115-$136. Heavy weight Merino hoggets made $94-$116 and equivalent crossbreds sold from $100-$116.

Demand from processors for the mixed sheep yarding was considerably easier and prices fell significantly. Restockers operated on wethers at $79-$92. Light weight 2 score ewes were the least affected by easing prices, falling $2 to $55-$75, averaging 257c/kg. Heavy weight 3 scores eased $6 to $75-$99 and averaged 282c/kg. Heavy weight wethers sold from $90-$100, or 322c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $80-$98.

Naracoorte’s restocker lambs fall $12-$14

At the Naracoorte saleyards yesterday the agents yarded 1897 lambs, 787 fewer than last week, and 1054 sheep, 87 less.

The NLRS said fewer trade and processor buyers attended and not all operated fully. There were also fewer restocker buyers and light lambs dropped in price. Overall quality was very mixed with the few heavy lambs better in price as light weight sheep returns rose dramatically. Light weight lambs sold to the trade at $74-$100. Light weight trade 2 and 3 score types fell $8-$10 to $84-$108. Restockers were active, but there wasn’t the usual demand and lambs made $12-$14 less at $20-$97.

Trade weight 3 score lambs sold firm for $108-$122, or an average of 530c/kg. Heavy 4 score lambs ranged from $128-$155, with the few extra heavy export weight types making to $157.

Hoggets ranged from $66-$95 with wethers ranging from $95-$105. Light weight ewes lifted with buyer demand to make $70. Medium weight ewes lifted by up to $10 to $56-$83, or an average of 300c/kg. Heavy ewes made $75-$97. Rams mainly sold from $55-$82.

Muchea lamb prices close to firm for quality

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 4813 lambs, 4606 fewer than last week, and 2570 sheep, 2211 less.

The NLRS said most of the yarding was lambs and quality was plain, with the exception of a moderate number of prime lambs. All buyers were present, but activity was mixed, with some lamb buyers very selective and others restricted to store drafts. Prices remained close to firm across the yarding, with most changes related more to quality than competition.

Very light store lambs continued to sell well at $25-$66, remaining firm to $4 dearer. Light lambs sold strongly for $66-$89 to air freight processors, feeders and restockers. Trade prices continued at subdued levels, partially due to quality. Best trade weight lambs made $95-$110, or close to 460c/kg. Plainer drafts made $80-$97, to average close to 440c/kg. Heavy lambs sold to a top of $117 and remained close to firm.

Hogget sales to the trade remained solid, with better hoggets making $65-$93. Ewe prices were close to equal, with light weight and conditioned ewes making $40-$57 and the 2 score medium weight lines selling from $58-$71, or averaging close to 295c/kg. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes were also firm to marginally dearer at $65-$83, or almost 290c/kg. Restockers paid $40-$69 for ewe hoggets and $45-$77 for older drafts.

Wether prices remained firm. The better export weight drafts made $86-$98, and the light and store drafts sold to feeders and restockers for $65-$103. Skins on the dearer drafts were valued at more than $12. Ram prices were influenced by supply, with processors paying more for the better quality older drafts. Ram lambs made $65-$85 and other young drafts sold to export for $43 and $76. Older rams sold to processors for $30-$65.

Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.


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