QUALITY new season lambs and mutton sold generally dearer at saleyards early this week, with buyers chasing weight and finish among limited New South Wales and northern Victorian supplies.
Exporters searching for quality heavy and extra heavy lambs lifted rates by up to $22 in some saleyards and rates for trade weight lambs held generally firm due to availability, but trade buyers discounted for lines lacking finish.
Agents restocking light lambs for Victorian and New South Wales clients who had recently received rain or with pasture/crop feed are keeping light lamb prices strong and just above the indicator rates for trade and heavy slaughter lambs. At Bendigo on Monday, The National Livestock Reporting Service said prices for some of the bigger lines of young store lambs in the 12-16kg weight bracket lifted by up to $15. Restocker lamb prices also rose $5-$8 at Ballarat on Tuesday.
After yesterday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicator for heavy lambs improved 2 cents to 701c/kg to be still 88 cents above its position at the same time last year. The trade lamb indicator fell 2 cents to 691c/kg, 74 cents up on last year. The restocker lamb indicator was down 5 cents to 707c/kg, the light lamb indicator fell 1 cent to 678c/kg and the Merino lamb indice was unchanged on 621c/kg. The mutton indicator closed down eight cents on 433c/kg.
Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest slaughter figures show the numbers of lambs killed rose 3pc in the eastern states to 382,020, up 3pc on the previous week, but down 4pc on this time last year. In NSW last week, the lamb slaughter rose 5pc to 102,511 and was up 4pc in Victoria to 212,228, as the new season lamb turn-off started to peak. South Australia’s lamb slaughter declined 1pc to 59,869 and Tasmania’s kill at 7102 was down 23pc week-on-week.
Sheep slaughter last week increased 11pc in South Australia to 22,115, and by 29pc to 2501 in Tasmania, but fell in all other states — Queensland down 22pc to 3838, Victoria down 3pc to 76,104 and NSW down 3pc to 61,526. The eastern states sheep slaughter last week was down 2pc week-on-week at 166,084, but up 33pc on the kill for the same week last year.
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 11,760 lambs, 4960 more than last week, and 10,695 sheep, 3595 more.
The National Livestock Reporting Service said there was a large supply of plainer condition light weight lambs, including a large line of young second cross lambs. There were limited supplies of well-finished lambs suitable for domestic and export markets. Rates for the light and medium weight lambs to processors were generally cheaper, with numbers having an effect.
The quality of the young lambs for restockers contributed to a dearer market trend, with the heavier end improving by as much as $18. Heavier lambs attracting domestic and export competition sold firm to slightly dearer. Quality and weight improved in the well-finished young lambs. Increased weight in the few extra heavy weight old lambs was a factor in the higher prices.
The condition and weight of the sheep penned varied greatly. Market trends were generally firm to a little dearer through the light and medium weights. Heavy weight crossbred ewes sold to a dearer trend with weight increases.
At Corowa saleyards on Monday the agents yarded 7405 lambs, 165 more than last week, and 5700 sheep, 160 fewer.
The NLRS said there was not as much weight penned, with trade weights well-supplied. There were a few more shorn lambs and a small run of Merinos. Not all the usual buyers operated in the firm to dearer market.
New season lambs sold to restockers for $98-$118 and feeders paid to $132. Trade lambs were firm to $3 dearer at $136-$170, averaging 690c/kg cwt. Heavy lambs lifted $10-$12 on fewer numbers to $160-$197 and extra heavy lambs reached $212, averaging around 720c/kg.
Shorn trade lambs lifted $5 to $135-$166 and heavy shorn lambs gained $9 to $175-$190, with extra heavy lambs reaching $206. Carcase prices averaged 740-760c/kg. Heavy Merinos sold to $145 and hoggets made to $164.
Mutton quality was mixed. Prices lifted $8-$10 on most. Medium weight ewes sold from $86 up to $131 for long wool Merinos. Heavy crossbreds sold from $114-$142 and Merino ewes to $141. Carcase prices averaged 440-470c/kg on the medium and heavy sheep.
At the Tamworth saleyard on Monday, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 70 more, and 1500 sheep, 500 fewer.
The NLRS said quality and weight of lambs improved, particularly in the heavy lambs. Consequently, trends for those grades also improved. All the regular buyers attended, as did restockers operating competitively on big runs of store lambs.
There were limited drafts of new season lambs, with butchers operating and restockers on the light end. Light lambs sold to local and other restockers. Trade lambs were close to firm and Dorpers sold up to $20 dearer. Heavy lambs lifted $10-$20. A pen of extra heavy lambs estimated 40kgs dressed sold for $280. Hoggets made to $138.
Light ewes sold firm to slightly dearer. Medium weight ewes sold to mostly dearer, lifting up to $20. Heavy crossbred ewes were $12 dearer. Good quality Merino wethers sold up to $30 dearer.
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 13,650 lambs, 3800 more, and 7100 sheep, 1550 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was variable, with some better lines of supplementary-fed finished and plainer lambs offered. Most of the usual buyers competed in a relatively steady market that fluctuated around quality.
Trade weight new season lambs sold from $147-$195. Old light lambs made $110-$134. Trade weights were firm to $2 dearer at $136-$172. Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs held reasonably firm. Heavy lambs sold from $168-$190 and extra heavies made $193-$238. Carcase prices averaged from 712-769c/kg.
Mutton quality continued to be very mixed. Prices remained relatively steady, with Merino ewes selling from $92-$162. Crossbred ewes made $93-$140 and Dorper ewes sold from $90-$125. Merino wethers made $92-$153.
At the Deniliquin saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2500 lambs, 900 more, and 2300 sheep, 500 more.
The NLRS said there was only a few pens of reasonable heavy and trade weight lambs in each agents run and quality quickly declined into plainer and light weight lambs. The main regular buyers attended and local agents purchased a reasonable percentage of the store lambs.
Price trends were softer than a fortnight ago, but remained in line with more recent market trends. A pen of heavy unshorn lambs estimated to be about 28kg cwt topped the sale at $196. Less than 10 pens of lambs made more than $150, indicating how the yarding lacked weight and finish. Most lambs under 20kg cwt sold from $90-$126, with small secondary lambs below $50 at times.
The sheep yarding also lacked weight and finish, and was mostly Merino ewes in light condition showing the effects of the season. Mutton prices were softer than a fortnight ago, particularly over the volume of plainer ewes.
At the Inverell saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2050 lambs, 50 more than two weeks ago, and 1183 sheep, 401 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality lifted and there was a good selection of heavy lambs. An extra buyer improved prices for trade lambs. All the regular processors attended and there was limited input from restockers. Light lambs lifted $20 and trade lamb prices rose $6-$15. Heavy trades sold $8-$12 better and extra heavy lines lifted up to $22 on the last sale two weeks ago. Hoggets sold $10 dearer.
Sheep quality decreased. Light sheep sold firm. The Heavy ewes had less weight and quality and sold up to $7 cheaper. The best crossbred wethers sold $20-plus dearer.
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 25,000 lambs, 1000 more than last week, and 12,000 sheep, 4000 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was again mixed. Some good first-draft young lambs from southern grazing areas led the market ahead of the many drier-skinned types showing the effects of the season.
Processors were selective with their bidding and continued to favour the newer conditioned lambs, which led to some erratic results at times, although momentum improved later in the auction.
Prices were dearer for the limited supply of best heavy lambs and results for the general run of trade weight lambs were solid and within a few dollars of last week. The stand-out performers were light weight lambs, as NSW agents from Forbes, Griffiths and Lake Cargelligo came south after rain. Some of the bigger lines of young store lambs in the 12-16kg weight bracket lifted by up to $15.
A few pens of export weight young lambs sold from $209 to a top of $216. The heavy trade weight crossbred lambs weighing 24-26kg, sold from $174-$194, to average about $174. The next size down at 22-24kg, made from $152-$174, to average $164. There were many drier lambs in the 18-21kg cwt category, which mainly made from $130-$150. On a carcase basis, most sales to processors were made around 660-710c/kg, with some sales of quality young lambs pushing higher late in the market, making close to 740c/kg cwt.
Demand for store stock was very strong, particularly for bigger pen lots of small lambs in the 12-16kg cwt category. These averaged $112 to restockers at much dearer carcase prices, compared to a week ago. Most lambs to restockers made from $100-$132, depending on size.
The sheep yarding comprised mainly ewes of all descriptions, with only limited Merino wethers available. Processor competition for mutton was erratic and price results were mixed, even across sheep of similar weight. Heavy first cross ewes sold to $166 and were among the best supported of the sale, thanks to northern abattoir support. Heavy Merino ewes sold to $138 and wethers made to $140. An estimated price spread of 360-420c/kg cwt covered most of the better mutton. Odd lots and Dorper sheep were discounted.
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 45,406 lambs, 8007 more, and 15,500 sheep, 6400 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality ranged from average to very good, although there are not as many heavy weight lambs being yarded. The usual buyers operated keenly in the firm to dearer market.
Young unshorn lambs sold from around last weeks’ levels to $5 stronger for well-presented quality lambs. Extra heavy young lambs reached $240 and the heavier trade weights sold from $161-$188, averaging around 710c/kg cwt. Several pens of nicely-presented shorn young lambs off supplementary feed sold from $212-$234. Heavy old lambs made $160-$198.
A large following of restocker and feeder buyers, from the Wimmera, Gippsland, Mallee areas, north-east Victoria, local and Riverina areas competed keenly on suitable young lambs both unshorn and shorn. They paid mostly from $90-$161, and from $44-$90 for lighter lots, with shorn young lambs selling from $101-$157, most restocker lambs were $5-$8 up on last weeks’ levels. Light weight 2 score young lambs sold from $100-$122. Light trade 2 and 3 score young lambs sold from $119-$157 and averaged around 700c/kg cwt.
Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $143-$166, with the heavier weights making $161-$188, or 650-750c/kg to average around 710c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $181-$218 to average 710c/kg. Extra heavy export lambs made $228-$240 and averaged 715c/kg. Heavy crossbred hoggets sold to $155 and Merino hoggets made to $149.20.
Sheep quality ranged from plain to very good. Most of the regular buyers operated on sheep and prices fluctuated a few dollars either side of firm.
The large numbers of Merino wethers yarded attracted keen competition and sold to $164. Large numbers of crossbred ewes were also yarded and sold to $150. Merino wethers sold from unchanged to $10 easier in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $38-$89 and averaged around 400c/kg. Very light sheep made $3-$59. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $66-$123, or 300-455c/kg. Merino mutton averaged around 430c/kg. Heavy Merino ewes sold to $115. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $104-$164, the medium weights made $80-$110 and the heavy Merino sheep ranged from 410-450c/kg. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $90-$150 and averaged 390-400c/kg. Rams sold from $24-$83.
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, agents yarded 8000 lambs, and 4700 sheep, 1700 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality deteriorated markedly and prices eased $10-$15. The usual buyers and restockers attended the extremely erratic sale.
More extremely light Merino lambs were offered, along with hoggets of all weights. Extremely light young lambs sold from $9-$62, with restockers more active. Prices for light young lambs varied from $70-$124 and light trade types made $110-$158. Medium weights made $110-$179 and the few heavy weights sold from $180-$190.
The extremely light older lambs were primarily shorn types that sold from $40-$122. Light trade lines made $88-$142 and medium weights sold from $140-$150. The few heavier weights sold from $130-$180, up to $15 cheaper. Hogget quality was also extremely mixed and prices reduced $5-$10, with light weights making $44-$105 and heavy weights selling from $104-$143.
Mutton quality also decreased, with prices back by $5-$10. Lighter weights sold from $23-$110, medium weights from $58-$89 and heavy weights $57-$115 in a very erratic sale. The few wethers sold from $67-$130 and were least affected by the decreasing in prices. Rams generally made $35-$142.
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 12,158 lambs, 4759 fewer than last week, and 2411 sheep, 400 more.
The NLRS said a large field of trade, processor and restocker buyers attended. Numbers of lighter lambs increased this week. Good quality trade types are becoming scarce and the heavier end of these eased in price. The lighter end of the trade lambs remained firm amongst good processor competition.
The increased number of light lambs were mixed in quality, with some staying fresh in the skin, while most were showing signs of dryness and sold cheaper. Light weight lambs sold to the trade for $96-$138 and the light 2 and 3 score trade weights made $132-$145.
Restockers purchased big numbers of lambs, paying $54-$96 for light weights and $118-$141 for those in better condition. Trade weight 3 score lambs stayed firm at about 670c/kg cwt or $138-$162. Heavy lambs made from $158-$188, easing $4-$6. The few extra heavy types sold from $192-$210. Light hoggets made $66-$94 and the heavier lines sold from $114-$141. Light ewes sold from $46-$87, the medium weights made $85-$112 and the heavy types $102-$131. Wethers sold to $135, with rams making from $64-$84.
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 5000 lambs, 75 more than last week, and 7612 sheep, 3612 more.
The NLRS said there was spirited competition for most types in the similar quality yarding.
Processors paid $4-$8 extra for trade lambs and hoggets. Prices for young Merino sheep sold to feeders and restockers increased $5-$10.
Airfreight lambs sold to the trade for $85-$117, up $8. Trade lambs weighing 20-22kg sold from $141-$165, averaging 705c/kg, up $8. Heavy lambs made $163-$168, up $4. Hoggets sold to the trade made mainly $90-$130, up $10. Ram lambs sold firm at $87-$130.
Very light store Merino young ewes-restockers sold from $34-$85, up $5, and medium weights made $102-$130, up $10. Very light weight young wethers sold firm to graziers $40-$50-remain firm, with medium weights $5 dearer-make from $86-$130.
The mutton market remained strong despite the increased number. Processors paid $60-$110 for Boner ewes, $105-$114 for trade ewes and $106-$130 for heavy ewes. Prime wethers sold firm to processors for $106-$120 and graziers paid $75-$105 for store types.
In Tasmania at the Powranna and Killafaddy saleyards on Tuesday, agents yarded 445 lambs, 35 more than last week, and 600 sheep, 50 fewer.
The NLRS said there was a similar number of new season lambs, with quality very good and prices generally similar, although some heavy lambs were slightly cheaper.
Restockers bought light lambs for $100-$118 and feeders paid $122-$130 for light trade lines and from $133-$150/head for trade and heavy trade lots. The few trade lambs sold to the trade made $140-$148. Heavy lambs sold from $152-$162 and the extra heavy made $163-$190.
Extra competition on mutton lifted prices $8-$10. There was a good selection of medium and heavy ewes and all met much stronger demand. Heavy ewes sold from $99-$112, medium weights from $84-$108 and light ewes and wethers from $69-$85.