Trade lamb prices were firm to slightly dearer in most eastern states saleyards and over-the-hooks mid-week as processors secured supplies for the Easter period.
But export lamb saleyard rates fluctuated from lower, to barely firm or slightly higher depending on quality, numbers offered and location.
However, the overall quality slaughter lamb supply situation in the eastern states was best illustrated by selective bidding by processors at major markets and the quick reaction to Coles last week releasing a 580c/kg contract for May delivery.
At Dubbo and Forbes, despite overall bigger yardings, the limited numbers of ideal trade weights helped lift the centres’ slaughter lamb rates. However, at Bendigo and Ballarat, 25-30 percent higher offerings of mainly good quality lambs after last week’s price rises enabled buyers to be selective, dropping per head and carcase weight prices.
Coles on Friday released a May delivery contract of 580c/kg for 18-25kg lambs, but a quick uptake meant the first three weeks of the contract’s requirement was filled by Monday.
Agents look for hook sales after price drops in Victoria
Charles Stewart and Co auctioneer Jamie McConachy said last week’s saleyard prices rise gave agents confidence to yard extra lambs at Ballarat, rather than “hook” consignments as had been the preference recently.
“It gave us confidence to put a few in and consequently we got a kick in the guts, so no more yards for a while.
“There are simply too many lambs about and we are just playing it safe and basically hooking everything,” he said.
“Last week was a surprise, but you get one positive week and you think you are right, but it’s not the case.
“And as they (the processors) originally all told us is going to be mid-April before the smoke clears and possibly even the end of April.”
Mr McConachy said the processors did have plenty of lambs around them and there were delays of 2-3 weeks to get kill space for consignments in some cases.
“They are telling us there are lambs everywhere and just in our little neighbourhood that’s probably right.
“We got a lot of lambs up our sleeves to hook over April and even beyond.”
Mr McConachy said 18-25kg cwt lambs in Ballarat this week were making 100c/kg less than the Coles forward contract rates “and more in places”.
“There were a lot of lambs yesterday were making between 450-480c/kg.”
There were still relatively good spot hook rates available, with Westside on 550c/kg, Safeway on 540c/kg, Coles 550c/kg and the Australian Lamb Company has come back to 520c/kg for its heavy export lambs, he said.
NLRS mutton and lamb indicators firm
After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Meat and Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the Eastern States Daily Indicator for trade lambs as firm on 526c/kg, but the heavy lamb indice lost six cents to close on 524c/kg. The other lamb ESDIs are: restocker 522c/kg, down 7 cents; Merino 458c/kg, down 10c; light 495c/kg, up 3c. The national trade lamb indicator is on 527c/kg and the heavy indice closed on 523c/kg.
The ESDI for mutton finished firm on 339c/kg and the national indice is on 338c/kg.
Over-the-hook lamb indicator rates lift
In NSW, the NLRS said over-the-hook lamb rates lifted across all categories in anticipation of the two short weeks due to the four-day Easter break.
NSW’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 480-560c/kg, up 5 cents; 20-22kg, 500-560c/kg, up5c; 22-24kg, 500-550c/kg, up 6c; 24-26kg, 500-520c/kg, up 8c; Merinos 16-22kg, 420-500c/kg, up 15c. NSW’s 2-4 score mutton rates are: 14-18kg, 220-320c/kg, no change; 18-24kg, 250-340c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 290-350c/kg, nc.
In Victoria, the NLRS said over-the-hook light and trade weight lamb rates edged slightly higher, while heavy weights remained unchanged. Mutton rates across all categories were also dearer.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 520-540c/kg, up 10c; 18-24kg, 520-550c/kg, up 5c; 24-26kg, 510-520c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 510c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22, 500c/kg, nc. Victoria’s 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 280-330c/kg, up 7c; 18-24kg, 320-340c/kg, up 5c; 24kg+, 300-320c/kg, up 7c.
In WA, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook rates for lambs as unchanged, but mutton prices lifted 28-35c/kg this week.
WA’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 450-530c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-535c/kg; 22-26kg, 520c/kg; 26kg+, 470-530c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 400-480c/kg. The 2-4 score sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 260-280c/kg, up 35c; 18-24kg+, 250-305c/kg, up 28c.
Tasmania’s over-the-hook rates for mutton and lamb were left unchanged this week, according to the NLRS.
Tasmania’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 0-16kg, 460-480c/kg; 16-18kg, 480-550c/kg; 18-22kg, 510-540c/kg; 22-26kg, 520-540c/kg. The 2-4 score mutton rates are: 0-14kg, 280-300c/kg; 14-18kg, 290-330c/kg; 18-24kg, 310-330c/kg; 24kg+, 300-330c/kg.
Meat and Livestock Australia did not update South Australia’s sheep and lamb over-the-hook rates due to a lack of contributors.
Dubbo’s trade and heavy lambs lift $4
In NSW, at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 21,238 lambs, 5548 more than last week, and 10,000 sheep, 80 more.
The NLRS said with the weather remaining dry and no market until after the Easter break, numbers lifted and quality remained very mixed. There were more plainer lightweight lambs, with good runs of heavy weight lambs, but a limited supply of ideal trade weights. The Dorper and Dorper crosses were well-supplied and the usual buyers competed in a generally dearer market.
The lightweight lambs lifted $2-$3 and sold from $58-$98. The trade weights remained firm to $3 dearer, ranging from $86-$123, or an average from 497-532c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs gained $4, with the lighter end making $122-$156. The extra heavy weights slipped $4 and reached $175.60.
Sheep quality varied from very plain lightweights to well-conditioned heavy weights. Prices remained firm, although the very plain lightweights struggled in the competition. The 2 to 4 score medium and heavy weights sold from $60-$118, or from 327-359c/kg cwt.
Mutton and lamb prices lift at Tamworth
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3000 lambs, 105 fewer than last week, and 1800 sheep, 80 less.
The NLRS said the quality of the lamb offering was mixed, but there was a good supply of well-finished trade and heavy lambs. There were also some very good quality and condition medium and heavy weight sheep penned. The usual buyers attended, along with the return of one after a prolonged absence.
Dearer trends were seen in the lamb market, with trade weight prices up $2-$6, mostly for the heavier trade weights. Prices for heavy lambs over 24kg cwt improved the most, with average prices $8-$9 dearer.
The market trend for sheep was also generally dearer, with the quality of the heavy Merino wethers contributing to a significant lift in prices.
Forbes trade lambs firm
At the Forbes saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 19,700 lambs, 1077 more than last week, and 5800 sheep, 174 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed. Heavy and extra heavy lambs were very well-supplied and there were more light store lambs. Trade weights were limited. All the usual buyers attended and the heavy weights sold to a cheaper trend, whereas the trade weights remained firm.
Light lambs sold to a dearer trend as restocker activity picked up. Restocking lambs sold from $60-$102 and Merino lambs made $28-$61. Trade weight lambs were unchanged with medium and heavy weights receiving $96-$126.
Heavy and extra heavy weight lambs lost $3-$4. Heavy lambs ranged from $119-$148 and most of the extra heavy weights made $145-$185 to range from 485-515c/kg cwt.
Prices eased $2-$4 for the mixed quality mutton offering. Medium weight ewes ranged from $48-$85. Heavy crossbreds sold for $96-$115. Merino wethers made $108-$112 and most averaged 335c/kg cwt.
Bendigo lambs cheaper on carcase weight terms
In Victoria, on Monday at the Bendigo saleyards, the agents yarded 15,504 lambs, 5637 more than last week, and 7834 sheep, 4072 more.
The NLRS said there was a better selection of heavy export lambs, while the quality of the trade and lightweight lambs remained mixed. The usual buyers operated, but were selective with their bidding and prices fluctuated depending on breed quality and finish.
In dollar per head terms most heavy slaughter lambs made similar money to last week, but due to extra weight, carcase values were sometimes lower. The market reached a top of $175.60 for a pen of extra heavy export lambs estimated at 33-34kg cwt – the only sale over $170. A pen of 11 lambs donated to charity for the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal sold to several processors for $360 each.
The market showed the most variance on light weight lambs under 20kg cwt. Lambs weighing 14-18kg cwt with good shape and finish sold to strong demand from buyers, filling specialist orders for the Greek Easter trade. These lambs were significantly dearer at $90-$110. Any plainly bred light lambs, lacking finish, were often a few dollars cheaper, ranging from $52-$86.
There was restocking orders from Echuca, Shepparton and the local area, and store lambs also recorded mixed results depending on quality and size. The best pens of heavy domestic lambs sold similar to last week at $125-$138, averaging around 530-540c/kg cwt, with odd sales dearer. The general run of trade lambs, 20-22kg cwt, mostly made from $100-$116.
The lead pens of heavy export lambs sold from $160-$175.60, and the following drafts made $145-$158 at an estimated 500-520c/kg cwt for most.
The mutton sale was cheaper, with very light and plain sheep the most affected. Heavy slaughter sheep averaged $3-$6 easier, while lightweight types lost $7-$16 in places. Bidding for rams was also very lacklustre. Heavy first-cross ewes sold from $92-$117, while the best Merino ewes in high value skins returned up to $115. The lead pens of Merino wethers sold from $82-$103. Most of the better slaughter sheep sold in a range of 320-350c/kg cwt.
Ballarat’s heavy lambs sell $2-$8 easier
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,498 lambs, 4069 more than last week, and 5261 sheep, 1771 fewer.
The NLRS said the quality of the trade weight and heavy lambs was good. The usual buyers attended, although not all operated fully.
Extra heavy lambs sold to a market top of $174, with most lambs generally selling $2-$8 easier. The better presented light and heavy trade weight lambs sold close to firm on last week’s levels. Restocker and feeder buyers were active, with most lambs returning to the paddock for $82-$115 and first cross ewe lambs making to $128. Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $81-$86.
Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $90-$115. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $104-$124 with the heavier lots making $114-$136, or 470-570c/kg cwt to average around 520c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $137-$171 to average around 515c/kg, while the extra heavy lambs made $161-$174.
Sheep quality was mixed. Some good runs of heavy Merino and crossbred sheep were yarded, but there were more light sheep and most of these sold $2-$10 easier. The heavier sheep generally sold close to firm on last week.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $32-$79. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $60-$95, from 280-400c/kg cwt to average around 320c/kg. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $72-$104. The heavy Merino wethers sold from $78-$115 and the medium weights made $77-$89, or 340-350c/kg.
Dublin’s trade lambs ease $6-$13
In SA, at the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 9350 lambs, 1545 fewer than last week, and 1875 sheep, 184 less.
The NLRS said the mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to easing competition. All the usual trade and processor buyers attended, but two significant operators failed to bid and feeders had occasional input on shorn crossbreds.
Feeder buyers operated on heavier, 3 score crossbred lambs and paid $94-$112. Light weight 3 score lambs to trade buyers eased $6, selling from $90-$105 and averaging 489c/kg cwt. Light trade weight 4 score lamb remained unchanged, selling from $118-$130 and averaging 549c/kg. Heavy trade weight 4 scores eased $13, to $110-$133, averaging 487c/kg. Heavy weight lambs eased $11-$15, selling from $122-$148 or 462-479c/kg cwt and extreme heavy weights sold to $150.
Merino lambs were plentiful and restockers paid $39-$71. Trade weights to processors eased $8, selling from $88-$100 and heavy weight 3 scores made $108-$128 to average 448c/kg cwt. Heavy weight Merino hoggets eased $10, selling from $90-$115 and the crossbred two-tooths made $104-$112.
Competition from processors on the mixed yarding of sheep was only negligible. Light weight 2 score Merino ewes eased $5, selling from $50-$60, averaging 227c/kg cwt. Heavy weight 3 score ewes eased $2, making $65-$90 to average 255c/kg cwt. Heavy weight wethers were more plentiful and prices eased $10, from $65-$105 to average 273c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold for $65-$90.
Naracoorte lambs $10-$15 cheaper
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 1792 lambs, 171 fewer than last week, and 454 sheep, 1240 less.
The NLRS said fewer buyers attended and not all were active, as a large number of store conditioned lambs again came forward. Prices fell across all categories. Light weight lambs to the trade ranged mostly from $60-$91, with light weight trade 2 and 3 scores making $85-$94 to be up to $10 cheaper. Restockers were active and paid from $62-$92.
Trade weight 3 score lambs ranged from $86-$105 at an average of 460c/kg cwt. The few heavy 4 score lambs made from $104-$116 to be up to $15 cheaper.
Medium weight 2 and 3 score ewes ranged from $78-$82, with the few heavy 4 score types making $90-$105. Rams made from $42-$70.
Muchea’s light and trade lambs $3-$5 easier
In WA, at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 6341 lambs, 1917 fewer than last week, and 4281 sheep, 853 less.
The NLRS said the better quality yarding had some good lines of well-conditioned lamb, with all buyers active.
However, trade lamb prices eased $3-$5. Light store lambs to restockers, including moderate numbers of Merino lambs, made from $41-$76 and were firm. Light lamb to air freight processors and feeders were $5 easier, with most making $72-$88. Trade weights were in better supply, with the 18-22kg lambs selling from $90-$115 to be $3-$5 easier. Heavy lambs sold from $115-$130, with most sales firm.
The mutton yarding contained some good well-conditioned lines of sheep and prices were $5-$10 dearer across all types. Light weight drafts sold from $50-$77, with the 2 score mutton to processors making from $69-$77. Better conditioned drafts, including the heavy weight lines, sold from $77-$96. Wether prices were $3-$5 dearer. Export weight wether drafts made $84-$113. Lighter weight and store wether categories made from $54-$87. Rams were also $3-$5 dearer, with ram lambs making $66-$60. Old rams sold firm to processors at $76-$90.
Sources: MLA, National Livestock Reporting Service, AuctionsPlus.
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