But agents believe producers face the prospect of higher lamb prices in the New Year based on tighter supplies.
While new season woolly lamb yardings in most other eastern state centres are declining, Hamilton agents have sold 102,099 lambs this month, including 49,439 lambs on Wednesday, and they believe as many will be sold at the south-west centre on November 26, after the first split lamb sale on November 24.
Hamilton stock agent and auctioneer, Warren Clark from Lanyons said domestic and export lamb buyers were very pleased with the quality of lambs at Hamilton.
“They’ve still got a bit of freshness — how long that lasts is anyone’s guess.”
He said next week’s yarding will be just as big as Wednesday’s “and then that might be it,” with the main lamb turn-off finishing about a month earlier, definitely before Christmas.
“These two markets we are having – this week and next week – are equivalent to our second and third week in December markets where we (normally) have our big markets.
“The only difference this week is we didn’t have our Monday market (this week),” he said.
“We had nearly 20,000 sheep here yesterday – we haven’t seen that for a few years.”
Lamb prices might reach 520-560c/kg cwt in New Year
Southern Grampians Livestock and Real Estate principal at Hamilton, Ashley Crow, said because of the season south-west farmers were selling all their lambs as soon as possible, unless they were looking to feedlot lambs.
“Any of the summer crops are probably just not going to happen until the end of January as far as growth goes.
“But the lamb market is very strong – it is very similar to last year when we were getting 370-380c/kg cwt but we had more weight, whereas this year we are getting 460c/kg cwt and we’ve got less weight,” he said.
“So dollars per head we’re very similar to last year.
“But my feeling is it will get pretty dear in the next four to five weeks, because the northern markets are very much-finished as far as for anything fresh or a bit of fat under it.”
Mr Crow believed the turn-off of woolly lambs would finish before Christmas and there would be none in the New Year.
“All the lambs that would generally come in off that late country from Hamilton to Heywood — there is no such thing this year, because the season is just as bad down there as it is up here.”
He said lamb supplies were at their peak now, but there were concerns about where lambs with quality and weight would come from in the next fortnight.
“They are buying now knowing that in another two or three weeks’ time they are not going to have a lot to pick from.”
Mr Crow said with the way store lambs were selling farmers were not missing out, despite the season. Inquiry from northern store buyers had never been stronger despite crop failures.
“They are selling three weeks before they normally would sell lambs so they are missing out on three or four kilograms in weight, but they are picking it up on a per kilogram basis.
“It looks like it is going to be between 520-560c/kg cwt in the New Year, if not more.
“There is a lot of confidence going into the New Year with lamb.”
NLRS quotes trade and heavy lamb indicators up
After Thursday’s sales, the National Livestock Reporting Service quoted the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator as up two cents to 467c/kg cwt and the heavy lamb indice at 466c/kg cwt, up three cents. The mutton indicator was down 10c/kg to 298c/kg, cwt, on the back of increased numbers at southern centres.
The national trade and heavy lamb indicators also improved, while the light, Merino and restocker lamb indices all fell. The national mutton indicator also dropped 10 cents to 298c/kg cwt.
Eastern states lamb supply increases
On Thursday, MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service said eastern states lamb supply increased 6 percent week-on-week, to 216,540 head. Yardings were up by 7pc in NSW to 68,825 and by 12pc Victoria to 115,700 head, with Hamilton flicking the switch on their three day sale format next week.
Eastern states lamb prices showed signs of improvement this week in southern markets, with a lack of heavy and extra heavy weight lambs seeing processors compete strongly to secure lines. The northern and western NSW markets of Dubbo and Tamworth recorded firm to cheaper trends, as dry conditions continue to cause concern and impact quality, NLRS said.
Heavy lambs up to $2 dearer at Carcoar
In NSW on Wednesday at the Central Tableland Livestock Exchange at Carcoar, the agents yarded 16,350 lambs, 3850 more than last week, and 6700 sheep, 2200 more.
The increased numbers produced another good quality yarding, with once again a good supply of outstanding trade and heavy weight new season lambs throughout, along with some good runs of old lambs. All the regular buyers operated.
The NLRS said light weight lambs were firm, with the 12-18kg cwt 2 scores selling from $47-$77. Trade lambs were firm to $1 dearer, with the 18kg to 22kg new season lambs selling from $80 to $119/head to average 483c/kg cwt. Trade weight old lambs sold from $74-$109. Heavy weight lambs were firm to $2 dearer, with the over 22kg new season lambs selling from $110-$144 to average 481c/kg cwt. Limited numbers of Merino lambs were firm, with trade weights selling to $75. Restockers were active and paying to $95.
The good quality yarding of mutton had some top lines of Merino ewes and wethers, along with good numbers of crossbreds. Merino ewes and wethers were $3-$5 cheaper, while the crossbred ewes were up to $8 cheaper. The 2 score ewes sold from $30-$55, while the 3 and 4 scores sold from $44-$81 for Merinos and $93 for crossbreds. The 3 and 4 score Merino wethers sold from $52-$88.
Goulburn’s light lambs $3-$4 cheaper
At the Goulburn saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 2600 lambs, 500 fewer than last week, and 1500 sheep, 800 more.
The NLRS said the offering consisted of mostly new season lots. Quality and condition was good overall although there was again a fair portion of lambs showing dryness and in need of shearing. Restockers took advantage of some of the drier lots showing good weight and bought readily into the trade and heavy categories.
With a few extra orders operating, it was a solid but variable market. Light lambs averaged $3-$4 cheaper, while trade and heavy weights were firm to slightly dearer overall. Restockers paid from $62-$108, while light processing lambs from 16kg to 18kg made $80-$87. Trade weights ranged from $85-$112, to average 460c/kg-475c/kg cwt, while the few heavy weights reached $115 and averaged around 425c/kg cwt. A mixed run of trade and heavy old lambs made $76-$106, to average 410c/kg-420c/kg cwt.
Sheep supply lifted and quality generally improved. There was a good selection of newly shorn sheep which attracted some restocker support, particularly for Merino wethers. The market responded and prices were generally $10-$12 dearer. Medium and heavy ewes made from $59-$84, while very heavy crossbred wethers reached $99 for most sheep, to average 280c/kg-325c/kg cwt.
Well-finished trade lambs sell $2-$3 dearer at Wagga
At the Wagga saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 24,200 lambs, 800 fewer than last week, and 8200 sheep, 3000 less.
The NLRS said quality was mixed with increased supplies of secondary lambs showing dryness. A few extra pens of young shorn lambs that had been supplementary fed offered buyers weight and yield, which helped lift prices a few dollars higher. There was a significant drop in weight across the extra heavy lamb category with very few lambs weighing above 26kg cwt. The usual domestic and export buyers competed in a dearer market. Secondary lambs suitable to restock or feed were well-supplied, and sold to strong northern competition from Tamworth, Dubbo, Gunnedah, Forbes and the local area.
Bidding was strongest for well-finished trade lambs, which helped lifted prices $2-$3. Light trade lambs to slaughter averaged $105.80. Medium and heavy trade lambs were in reasonable supply and prices were up to $3 dearer to average 501c/kg cwt. Light immature lambs to restock sold up to $5 dearer. Well-bred secondary lambs returning to the paddock averaged $92.80/head. Heavy export lambs were in short supply which aided the dearer trend. Heavy and extra heavy lambs sold from $125-$135 to average 450c/kg-460c/kg cwt. Heavy shorn young lambs sold to spirited competition and reached a top price of $130.
Mutton numbers declined and quality was mixed with all weights and grades represented. Merino ewes suitable for the trade were in reasonable supply, and prices were $10 cheaper. Medium weight sheep made from $61-$80 to average from 276c/kg-303c/kg cwt. Heavy sheep were well supplied and not all northern processors competed as strongly as the previous sale. Heavy mutton sold $8-$12 cheaper to average 298c/kg cwt. Not all buyers operated across the plainer classes of light weight sheep and prices were $3 cheaper, to average 226c/kg cwt.
Strong competition for store, trad and heavy lambs at Hamilton
In Victoria at Hamilton on Wednesday, the agents yarded 49,439 lambs, 11,572 more than last week.
The NLRS said the excellent quality yarding contained all weight ranges. Weights are down on previous seasons with the lambs going dry in the wool. A full complement of buyers, processors and restockers created spirited competition, which made light store and light trade lambs $5-$7 dearer. Store buyers came from Albury, Swan Hill, Echuca, Warracknabeal, Warrnambool, Naracoorte and the local area. The trade, heavy and extra heavy lambs started $3-$5 dearer, but as the sale progressed demand eased and prices came back to the previous week’s rates.
The 2 score light lambs mostly made from $51-$80, from 450c/kg-460c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 score lambs sold from $91-$125. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs ranged from $125-$132, with the heavier export lambs making $135-$151 and averaging from 460c/kg-480c/kg cwt.
‘Enormous’ store lamb demand at Hamilton
Lanyons auctioneer Warren Clark said the store demand at Hamilton was “just enormous, absolutely enormous.”
“We had quite a number of fellows from the river – Yarrawonga, Corowa, Deniliquin, Wagga – they might be going onto irrigation — they would be going under sprinklers I would imagine.”
He said a lot of the good store buyers were buying 17-18kg carcase lambs for $75-$85.
“The best heavy lambs here made $151 – they were over 30 kg and with an $8 skin I would imagine.”
Mr Lanyon said the export job was very strong with a full complement of exporters, domestic and supermarket buyers, and quite a lot of lambs made $125-$135.
The Hamilton lamb market will be split on Monday and Wednesday, with the sheep sale on Thursday until further notice.
Lambs sell firm to easier on quality at Horsham
At the Horsham saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 7457 lambs, 3835 fewer than last week, and 5951 sheep, 1111 more than last week.
The NLRS said lamb supply fell this week as the young lamb selling season eased. The plain to average quality yarding was offered to most of the regular buying group, with well-finished lambs now in short supply. Most lambs sold firm to a little easier on quality.
Restocking activity was again keen, with suitable lambs mostly selling from $75-$86 and from $45-$68 for the lighter drafts. The sheep yarding comprised lines of all weights and grades, but competition was not as strong, with most sheep selling a few dollars easier. The heavy crossbred lines sold from $5-$10 and less in places. Heavy Merino wethers sold to $92.50.
Light weight 1 and 2 score lambs sold from $58-$78. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $73-$89, with the heavy lots selling from $90-$104. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $94-$113, with the heavy drafts making $108-$117 and from 445c/kg-480c/kg cwt, to average around 460c/kg cwt. A pen of heavy old lambs reached $124.
Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $43-$62. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep sold from $55-$80 and ranged from 260c/kg-330c/kg cwt, to average around 290c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 to 5 score sheep sold from $65-$93.50, heavy Merino wethers sold from $73-$92 and the medium weights made $56-$79, at around 300c/kg cwt.
Hamilton sheep $3-$9 cheaper
At the Hamilton saleyards on Thursday, the agents yarded 17,760 sheep, 7616 more than last week.
Agents yarded an increase of 7,616 head of very good quality sheep this week, considering the lack of feed in the district of all weight ranges.
The NLRS said the yarding consisted of about equal numbers of Merino wethers and crossbred or Merino ewes that had recently had their lambs taken off them. A young line up of first cross ewes sold from $117-$152 to restockers. All usual buyers were present, but export processors were very selective in the market, lowering competition.
Light to medium weight mutton was $3-$5 cheaper and the heavy and extra heavy sheep were more affected, down $6-$9, to be back around 270c/kg-280c/kg cwt. Light sheep made from $35-$58, while medium weight 2 and 3 score ewes and wethers sold from $53-$77, to range between 250c/kg-280c/kg cwt.
Heavy 3 and 4 score ewes sold from $80-$92, to be $8 cheaper. Prime Merino wethers were back $9 and ranged from $86-$92, making from 280c/kg-290c/kg cwt. Rams sold from $15-$36.
Mr Clark said the real big heavy crossbred ewes and heavy wethers at Hamilton were certainly cheaper than last week — probably $8-$10.
“But in saying that, did they get too dear last week? Who knows – there was a lot of them around.
“Those big ewes last week that were making $95-$96 last week were making $86-$88 on Wednesday,” Mr Lanyon said.
“There was an outstanding run of heavy wethers made up to $94, well they would have made over $100 last week.”
Mr Lanyon said the trade sheep job was very good and the light sheep also probably sold a bit dearer.
“There was a pretty good quality yarding of sheep here yesterday.
“The weather has been kind to stock while we haven’t got any grass, the weather has been kind to stock.”
Mr Clark said south-west Victoria had not had the prolonged heat periods which producers were getting in the north.
“We get an occasional 32-33 degree day and then we get a mild day which is helping the stock.”
Demand improved at Mt Gambier
In SA at the Mt Gambier saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 12,108 lambs, 268 more than last week, and 331 sheep, 638 fewer.
The NLRS said the yarding sold to improved demand overall. The usual buyer field was boosted by an extra domestic buyer who operated on trade lambs. There was also more competition from restockers, who bid strongly to secure supply as the overall quality improved with more heavy lambs coming forward.
Lightweight 2 score lambs mainly sold from $50-$82 to be firm on last week’s market. Lightweight trade 2 and 3 score lambs ranged from $78-$100 with restockers active from $75-$85 as these lambs improved by up to $5/head. The trade weight 3 score lambs returned $83-$120 as they improved by up to $5-$8, to average 475c/kg cwt. Restockers had a limited run at these lambs from $84-$86. A much improved supply of heavy lambs also followed the improved price trend by $5, making $114-$135, at an average of 475c/kg cwt, while the extra heavy types ranged from $124-$142. The few hoggets offered mainly ranged from $80-$90.
The few lightweight ewes yarded sold from $22-$48, while the medium weight types ranged from $60-$75 to average mainly 280c/kg-300c/kg cwt. Heavy 3 and 4 score ewes sold from $82-$87, while the few rams offered made $20.
Trade lambs drop $6-$8 at Katanning
In WA at the Katanning saleyards on Wednesday, the agents yarded 6000 lambs, 1000 more than last week, and 10,263 sheep, 891 fewer.
The NLRS said more ewe mutton, light weight and store lambs were yarded. Quality was fair with only limited numbers of trade weight lambs and moderate supplies of well-conditioned ewes. Restockers were active on light weight ewes and all light and store lambs with live export activity on better framed store wether lambs. Processors remained firm on mutton with trade lamb drafts dropping back by $6-$8.
Light and store lambs to restockers and feed made $40 to $90, mostly $2/head easier. Merino drafts made from as low as $10-$65. Light lambs to air freight orders and processors made $74-$86, to be back slightly and trade weight lambs fell by $6-$8, with most from $90-$105, to average close to 480c/kg cwt.
Ewe prices were firm for drafts to processors with light weight ewes lifting $3, driven by restocker demand. Light ewes mostly made $40-$65, but 2 score ewes to processors sold from $45-$76, to be $1 easier. The 3 and 4 score ewes including heavy weight drafts made $58-$83, back $2 with better framed longer-woolled drafts to restockers making $65, to a top of $91. Wether prices were firm. The heavy export weight drafts made from $75-$95, mostly to processors, with lighter and store drafts to feed and restockers selling from $45-$92.50, from firm to $3 dearer. Ram sales were equal with better ram lambs from $60 to $85 and young store drafts sold from $15-$60. Old rams again lacked competition to make $5-$30.