Prime & Store Sheep Reports

Less competition and quality drags saleyard lamb prices back

Sheep Central, February 24, 2021

SLAUGHTER lamb and mutton prices generally eased around quality in several saleyards this week as not all processors or supermarkets operated in all centres, and restocker demand and quality varied.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s National Livestock Reporting Service said most lambs sold $8-$15 cheaper in Bendigo on Monday with the absence of major domestic processor Coles and some regular orders, and trade lamb prices were $5-$8 lower in Dubbo.

However, agents said the price changes were mostly quality-related as producers market more unfinished lambs at the current good rates. Buyers continued to show a preference for well-finished shorn lambs off supplementary feed, and skin prices are helping rates for quality Merino lambs with weight.

Quality is still commanding a premium, with better quality trade lambs at Ballarat making more than 900c/kg, although most sales to the trade were generally $5-$12 cheaper. Prices for heavy and extra heavy lambs off supplementary feed held firm in places, but were on average $10-$15 softer.

Not all the usual buyers operated in a cheaper market at Forbes in New South Wales, with medium and heavy tradeweight lines losing $13-$19, but short-skinned lambs held their value the best.

Prices for South Australian lamb producers improved at the Dublin saleyards, with most lamb classes lifting by $10-$15 and heavier weights gaining $20-$25 for type and condition, as values mostly caught up with those at other eastern state centres.

Restocker interest varied across the centres, depending on the quality and weights offered, with restockers paying more at Dublin, Tamworth, Naracoorte and Muchea.

After Tuesday’s saleyard sales, the Eastern States Daily Indicators showed Merino and light lambs to be the most consistent performers, with the light lamb indicator up 20 cents to 902c/kg, and the Merino lamb indicator rising11 cents to 810c/kg. The restocker indicator lost 4 cents to close at 999c/kg. The trade lamb indicator lost one cent to 867c/kg and the heavy lamb indicator was 4 cents lower at 858c/kg. The mutton indicator was down 5 cents to 643c/kg.

Bendigo lambs $8-$15 cheaper

In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 17,000 lambs, 5000 more than last week, and 6000 sheep, 1000 more.

The NLRS said there was less quality and weight in the lamb run, with many pens off grass showing inconsistent finish and fat cover. The best lambs had been supplemented on grain.

It was smaller buying field, with a major domestic company absent and some other regular orders very quiet. Prices were cheaper, with most lambs showing falls of $8-$15.

Middle run lambs in the 22-26kg cwt range were the most affected by the cut in domestic buyer competition. The heaviest export lambs made to $275 for shorn lambs around 35-36kg cwt. Most of the big export lambs over 30kg sold from $240-$265 at an estimated cost of 770c/kg.

Most of the heavy trade lambs, 24-26kg, sold from $190-$215, to average $208. Nicely weighted domestic lambs in in the 21-23kg range remained limited and the pick of these made $180-$195. Secondary and lighter processing lambs mostly sold from $155-$175.

On a carcase basis, the market performed around quality, with the best trade lambs at 830-860c/kg, but plainer runs made 770-800c/kg. This meant most of the trade lamb categories made 810-830c/kg when the quality ranges were blended together.

The better presented Merino lambs suiting trade buyers sold from $180-$199, based on skin values of $14-$16. There were not many lambs to suit restockers, with only a few agents operating on store lambs, with better-framed types making $150-$170.

It was a mixed yarding of sheep, with Merino wethers offering buyers the biggest and neatest runs in the sale. The price trend was cheaper, although bidding was erratic at times and there were still price spikes. Crossbred ewes sold to $253 as two export buyers clashed. Most heavy sheep from sold from $160-$220. Good mutton was estimated at 570-650c/kg.

Dubbo trade lambs $5-$8 cheaper

In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards, the agents yarded 10,630 lambs, 2340 more than last week, and 7425 sheep, 5000 more.

The NLRS said it was a good quality yarding with good numbers of heavy weight lambs and a better selection of Merino lambs, but only limited numbers of ideal trade weights.

Most of the usual buyers operated, but trade lambs sold $5-$8 cheaper, with shorn tradeweight lambs making $170-$220, to make 840-870c/kg. The few trade weight new season lambs sold from $156-$185.

Heavy weight lambs were firm to $4 dearer, with the old lambs weighing 24-30kg selling from $212 – $260. Lambs over 30kg made $260-$277, or 835c/kg.

Merino lambs sold up to $10 dearer, with the better quality available assisting in the rise. Tradeweight Merino lambs sold from $146-$205 and a couple of pens of heavyweight Merinos made $220 and $232.

Restocker lambs were $5 dearer at $125-$163, while a small pen of young first cross ewe lambs sold to restockers for $190. Hoggets sold to $213.

There were some outstanding heavyweight sheep along with large numbers of Damara wethers and rams in a mixed yarding of mutton, with most grades finishing firm to $5 dearer. Merino ewes sold from $60-$239 and crossbred ewes made $155-$270. Merino wethers sold from $141-$246. Carcase prices for the better sheep ranged from 635-700c/kg. Restockers paid $150-$230 for Merino ewes.

Strong restocker demand at Tamworth

In New South Wales at the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3400 lambs, 1100 more than last week, and 1700 sheep, 700 more.

The NLRS said lamb numbers were boosted by a summer showing of new season lambs. The lamb offering comprised a good selection of well-finished young lambs and a fair selection of good quality light weights suitable for restockers. There was also a good supply of heavy and extra heavy weight old lambs.

The usual processors operated and there was strong restocker support. Demand from restockers for good quality young lambs was high, resulting in dearer trends across all weight classes. The lighter weights experienced the greatest improvement with the increased competition.

There were also dearer trends for most of the well-finished medium and heavy weight lambs to process. The increased supply in some classes and the weight variations had some impact on prices. The extra heavy weight lambs experienced little price change.

Restockers were again active on any young ewes. There was a good supply of well-finished medium and heavy weight sheep penned, along with some extra heavy weight crossbred and Dorper ewes. Market trends were generally firm to dearer, while there was some weight and quality related price change in odd classes.

Ballarat trade lambs $5-$12 cheaper

In Victoria at the Ballarat saleyards, the agents yarded 31,840 lambs, 6217 more than last week, and 12,622 sheep, 2988 more.

The NLRS said lamb quality was plain to excellent for the usual buyers.

The market was again very strong on the light lambs going back to the paddock and specialty feeders, with prices holding firm to slightly dearer.

Lambs sold be $5-$12 cheaper to the trade, but the better quality lambs still made more than 900c/kg cwt in places. Heavy and extra heavy lambs coming mostly off supplementary feed sold on average $10-$15 softer, but in places held firm on last week’s levels.

Light weight lambs under 20kg sold back to the paddock made $128-$176, and with 20kg and over lines sold from $173-$209. Lambs suiting MK orders under 18kg made $140-$157. The 18-22kg lambs sold to the trade made $164-$193, and the 22-24kg lines sold from $190-$225, or 817-938c/kg, to average 845-860c/kg. The 24-26kg lambs sold from $208-$226.

The 26-30kg export score 4 lambs sold from $226-$250, to average 840c/lg. The over 30kg lambs made $250-$300, or 790-800c/kg. Heavy woolly lambs sold to $240, again from a limited supply. Crossbred hoggets sold to $212 and Merino made $202.

Sheep quality was plain to excellent with plenty of weight offered across all categories. Most processors were active and the market started very strong, which had a positive effect causing price increases of up to $30 in places. Heavy Merino ewes sold to $238 and Merino wethers made to $246. Heavy crossbred mutton sold to $298. Heavy Merino wethers over 24kg sold from $163-$247, or 700-740c/kg. Lighter weights made $126-$188. Heavy Merino ewes sold from $188-$238 and heavy crossbred ewes made $161-$298, or 640-740c/kg.

Trade and heavy lambs $12-$19 cheaper at Forbes

In NSW at the Forbes saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 13,250 lambs, 800 fewer than last week, and 3000 sheep, 250 less.

The NLRS said lamb quality was plainer. Light lambs and trade weights were limited and there was a good run of heavy weights. Extra heavy lambs were not as plentiful and there were no extra heavyweights.

Not all the usual buyers operated in a cheaper market that strengthened, with short-skinned lambs holding their value the best. Light restocking lambs sold from $140-$177. Medium and heavy trade weights were $13-$19 cheaper. Prices for long wool lambs fell the most to make $173-$186, or around 860c/kg.

Heavy lambs were back $12-$14 at $191-$228, or 820-860c/kg. Lambs estimated to weigh 26-30kg sold $13 softer at $220-$250, or 840c/kg. The over 30kg lambs dropped $12 to sell from $239-$285. Merino trade lambs made $148-$198, and the heavyweights sold to $230.

Mutton quality was a little plainer. Light sheep were cheaper, and the medium and heavyweights sold firm. Light sheep made $80-$112 and medium weights sold from $112-$158. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $213-$246. Dorper ewes made to $268.

Dublin lamb prices lift $10-$25

At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin yesterday, the agents yarded 7000 lambs, 6000 fewer than last week, and 20000 sheep, 2000 less.

The NLRS said the usual trade and processor buyers, specialty butchers and restockers attended the sale.

Quality was again generally good to very good, with more heavy trade lambs. Competition was good with prices across most lamb classes lifting by $10-$15 and heavier weights gaining $20-$25 for type and condition.

Restockers were also more active this week, with suitable lambs to feed on also gaining in price.

Light young lambs sold from $100-$148, light trade weights made $144-$169 and medium weights sold from $144-$169. Light older lambs sold from $116-$140 and light trade weights made $134-$182. Medium weights made $170-$220 and the heavyweights sold from $200-$262. The few extreme heavyweight lambs sold from $241-$274. Hoggets sold up to $20 dearer at $185-$260.

Mutton quality was again good, with prices lifting $5-$8 across all grades. Light ewes sold to $140 and mediumweights made $120-$178. The heavyweights sold from $172-$222. Young Merino ewes sold to restockers and the trade for $131-$248, with those with full fleeces attracting solid bidding. Rams sold from $70-$202.

Naracoorte lamb market easier

In South Australia at the Naracoorte saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 6998 lambs, 39 fewer than last week, and 1398 sheep, 1087 less.

The NLRS said the lambs sold to the usual trade and processor buyers and to restocker orders.

Quality was good with a large number of heavy and extra heavy lambs and only a few lightweight types suitable for the trade. Restockers competed strongly on light lambs.

The lamb market was slightly easier than the previous week. Light lambs sold to the trade for up to $122. Restockers paid $96-$142 for light lambs and from $151-$188 for those with more condition.

Trade weight score 3 lambs made $166-$190 and the heavy lambs sold from $188-$220, with most lambs making 800-840c/kg. Extra heavy lambs were well-supplied and sold from $214-$274. Light hoggets made $74-$126 and heavy types sold from $138-$220.

Light ewes sold from $106-$129. Medium weighted ewes made $125-$156 and heavy lines returned $155-$220. Wethers made $126-$210. Rams sold from $96-$145.

Muchea’s light lambs lift $5

In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 6100 lambs, 900 fewer than last week, and 6370 sheep, 1370 less.

The NLRS said it was an average quality yarding and prices remained very similar to last week, apart from light lamb values.

Light lambs up to 15kg cwt sold $5 higher due to stronger grazier demand. Very lightweight lambs up to 12kg sold to graziers for $50-$91. The 13-17kg air freight types made $70-$138, pushed by lot feeders and live export. The 18-21kg light trade lambs sold firm at $130-$148.

Prime 22kg lambs sold from $150-$168 to average around 730c/kg. Types over 23kg sold from $170-$185 to average 700c/kg. Hoggets sold firm on a better selection at $140-$175 to average 600c/kg.

Mutton sheep values remained very similar to last week. The heavy older wethers sold to processors were firm and the best made $150-$205. Ewe mutton values remained firm. The medium weight 19-24 kg boners sold from $100-$148. The prime 25-30kg types sold from $150 up to $180 for those with a fleece, to average 600/kg. Heavier types sold from $165 up to $203 for those with a fleece to remain firm. Wethers made to $205 and heavy ewes to $203, averaging 600c/kg. *Due – technical difficulties, full data collation of sale results could not be obtained.

Northern Tasmanian lambs firm to $10 dearer

In northern Tasmania at the Powranna saleyards yesterday, the agents yarded 2400 lambs, 460 fewer than last week, and 2527 sheep, 407 less.

The NLRS said the highlight was the good runs of heavy lambs that met strong export competition.

About 450 lambs made more than $200. Most trade and heavy lambs were fully firm to $10 dearer for the smallest offering for many weeks. Restockers bought light trade and trade lambs for $156-$170. Tradeweights made $166-$198 and heavy types sold from $194-$228. Export weights over 30kg made $220-$230.

There was strong competition for mutton and most sheep sold $8-$15 dearer to recover last week’s losses. Extra heavy ewes made $168-$178. Heavy types sold from $163-$182 and the mediumweights made $138-$168. Light lambs sold from $122-$134 and very light lines made $112-$118.

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