LIGHT lamb prices increased in saleyards this week with stronger export and restocker demand.
At Dubbo on Monday, prices for light lambs 12-18kg with skins valued at up to $10 lifted $5-$9, with processors and restockers paying $80-$106 or 414-680c/kg.
Light lamb prices held firm to cheaper at Tamworth and Forbes, but finished at similar per head and cwt rates as the other NSW centres.
At Bendigo on Monday, light crossbred lambs suiting restockers and processing orders lifted $4-$10, with 12.1-18kg cwt lambs with skins generally valued at up to $12 selling from $69.20-$106, or 460-619c/kg.
Light lambs also sold slightly dearer at Ballarat and at Dublin in South Australia, where 12.1-18kg lambs with skins valued at up to $12 made up to $107 and reached 638c/kg.
Trade and heavy lambs sold dearer in most saleyards around quality, as well-finished lines become increasingly scarce and restockers push into heavier plain lambs.
Elders livestock manager at Bendigo Nigel Starick believed the light lamb prices were being driven by export demand and strong restocker demand for store lambs. He attributed the lift in trade and heavy lamb prices to lower yardings and less quality in drafts.
“You are getting a good run at the start of your sale, but then it drops off very quickly.
“There are opportunities for the restockers to get in and buy those 17-18kg cwt lambs that are plain, instead of buying 15-16kg, so you are picking up a bit of weight to start with.”
Markets were just “running out” of top heavy lambs, he said, with people struggling to finish lambs except in feedlots on grain and pellets.
“We just can’t get a rain, but the store job is still going well.
“You can’t buy a store ewe, they are just so dear and I think going forward females are going to be as dear as poison.”
NLRS lamb indicators climbing
The National Livestock Reporting Service quoted Eastern States Daily Indicators for most lamb categories as steadily lifting this week, especially light and heavy lambs.
After Tuesday’s saleyards sales, the ESDIs for lamb were: restocker 549c/kg, up 2 cents; Merino 495c/kg, down 2c; light 526c/kg, up 8c; trade 537c/kg, up 3c; heavy 534c/kg, up 5c; heavy 534c/kg, up 5c. The national trade lamb indicator lifted 2 cents to 536c/kg and the heavy indice rose 5c to 534c/kg.
The ESDI and national mutton indicators lifted 8 cents to 311c/kg.
Grid rates mostly unchanged
In New South Wales, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook lamb rates as unchanged this week. As supplies tighten most are taking a wait-and-see approach for price adjustments. Mutton rates were unchanged across all weight ranges.
The NSW OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 18-20kg, 480-550c/kg, down 3c; 20-24kg, 510-550c/kg, down 3c; 24-26kg, 510-540c/kg, no change; Merinos 16-22kg, 410-490c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 200-290c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 250-310c/kg, nc; 24kg+, 270-310c/kg, nc.
In Victoria, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook indicators as relatively steady, with only one contributor making minor downward adjustments to rates. Mutton rates were higher across all weight ranges.
Victoria’s OTH rates for 2-4 score lambs are: 16-18kg, 530-540c/kg, down 3c; 18-22kg, 530-550c/kg, down 3c; 22-24kg, 520-550c/kg, no change; 24-26kg, 510-520c/kg, nc; 26kg+, 510c/kg, nc; Merinos 16-22kg, 450c/kg, nc. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 250-280c/kg, up 3c; 18-24kg, 280-300kg, up 3c; 24kgZ+, 220-280c/kg, up 2c.
In South Australia, the NLRS quoted over-the-hook indicators as firm, with many taking a wait-and-see approach as supplies tighten. Mutton rates were mainly firm.
SA’s 2-4 score OTH lamb rates are: 16-18kg, 520c/kg; 18-24kg, 520-550c/kg; 24-26kg+, 510-520c/kg; Merinos 16-22kg, 490c/kg. The sheep rates are: 14-18kg, 190-300c/kg, nc; 18-24kg, 210-280c/kg, up 5c; 24kg+, 170-280c/kg, nc.
In Tasmania, the NLRS quoted OTH rates for sheep and lambs as generally unchanged. Tasmania’s OTH 2-4 score lamb rates are: 0-16kg, 480-500c/kg; 16-18kg, 490-500c/kg; 18-26kg, 510-520c/kg. The sheep rates are: 0-14kg, 260-280c/kg; 14-24kg, 270-280c/kg; 24kg+, 260-270c/kg.
Western Australia’s upodate OTH rates were not available when this report was published.
Dubbo’s heavy lambs $6 dearer
In New South Wales at the Dubbo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 14,285 lambs, 4815 more than last week, and 8460 sheep, 3640 fewer.
The NLRS said there were some excellent heavy weight lambs and a reasonable selection of trade weights. There were also a couple of large consignments of light weight Merinos and crossbreds.
Light weight lambs sold $5-$9 dearer to processors, with the 12-18kg 2 score lambs making $80-$106. Trade lambs were $5 dearer, with the 18-23kg 3 scores selling from $96-$138 to average 536c/kg cwt. Heavy weight lambs were $6 dearer, with over 22kg 4 scores making $120-$176. Merino lambs were up to $11 dearer, with the trade weights selling from $90-$126. Merino hoggets sold to $106 and crossbred hoggets to $118.
There were good numbers of top woolly Merino ewes and fair numbers of lighter weights in a good quality yarding of mutton. Most grades were $4-$6 dearer, with 2 score ewes selling from $40-$75. The better 3 and 4 score crossbreds sold from $54-$105 and woolly Merinos made to $118. Well-finished Merino wethers sold from $86-$109.
Tamworth’s trade lambs slightly dearer
At the Tamworth saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 3500 lambs, 200 more than last week, and 2100 sheep, 60 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed, with a good selection of trade and heavy weights. Secondary quality lambs were also in fair numbers. The usual buyers attended. There was reduced restocker activity, but this was counteracted by a light trade lamb order.
The light weight trade and restocker young lamb rates changed little with some quality-related price fluctuation. Trade weight lambs in the young and old categories sold to a slightly dearer trend. Heavy weight old lambs remained close to firm, with some weight and quality related price change.
The sheep were mostly light and medium weights with fewer heavy weights. Wuality and condition was fair to good. Trends were dearer throughout, up to $3, with weight related increases noticeable in the few heavy wethers.
Forbes’s trade lambs firm to $3 easier
On Tuesday at the Forbes saleyards, the agents yarded 26,250 lambs, 2900 more than last week, and 6600 sheep, 1600 fewer.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed. There were some good lines of well-finished lambs and some plainer drier types. The usual buyers competed in a market that started firm, but got cheaper as the sale progressed.
Light lambs held firm at $96-$106. Trade weights held steady to $3 easier at $105-$131. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were $3-$4 cheaper. Heavy lambs sold from $126-$144 and extra heavyweights from $143-$186. Carcase prices were 500-540c/kg.
Most of the sheep were mixed quality Merinos. Merino ewes sold from $70-$109 and crossbreds from $74-$108. Dorper ewes made $70-$96. Merino wethers sold for $80-$120.
Bendigo’s light lambs lift $4-$10
In Victoria at the Bendigo saleyards on Monday, the agents yarded 13,576 lambs, 2176 more than last week, and 7359 sheep, 4262 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality remained very mixed and continues to affect prices as buyers target the better finished lambs showing reasonable fat cover. The usual buyers attended, but not all exporters were active.
Prices for trade and heavy lambs were generally $4-$5 dearer in a fluctuating market. Bidding on heavy export lambs was patchy at times, and some sales were softer than a week ago, although the overall result was stronger. The highlight of the sale was demand for light lambs suiting restockers and processing orders which gained another $4-$10.
The market reached a top of $180 for a pen of extra heavy export lambs estimated at around 34kg, coming from the same property which sold the top-priced $175 lambs a week ago. Demand for heavy lambs was patchy and only a handful of pens made over $165, with most sales from $148-$160. Some heavy export lambs tracked under 500c/kg cwt, but the market average was an estimated 500-510c/kg.
The lead pens of heavy trade lambs sold from $128-$145, but most were plainer types which made from $115-$125. On a carcase basis, trade lambs averaged an estimated 510c-530c/kg, with less paid for secondary types. Carcase weight prices of up to 540-550c/kg were recorded for the best quality pens suiting the top domestic kill orders.
Light lambs suiting restockers or processing were keenly sought, with most sales from $88-$110. There were more Merino lambs this week and quality was also better, with one stand-out pen off grain estimated at around 24kg, with a $22 skin, selling to a top of $143. Most of the lighter trade Merino lambs sold from $94-$110 and trended around the 500c/kg-mark in a stronger result.
The mutton sale included some bigger and better lines of Merino and crossbred sheep compared to the patchy yardings of the past fortnight. Not all export orders operated, but the sale was more consistent and dearer than a week ago. Heavy Merino ewes in a big skin sold to $115 and extra heavy crossbreds made to $108. Light sheep were also dearer.
Ballarat’s trade lambs lift up to $4
At the Ballarat saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 20,164 lambs, 3682 more than last week, and 7968 sheep, 183 fewer.
The NLRS said an average to good quality lamb yarding was offered to the usual buyers.
Heavy lambs were well-supplied and with more interest this week the best extra heavy lambs reached $186, with an estimated carcase weight of 35kg. The better covered lambs suiting domestic orders sold from unchanged to $4 up on last week, while the heavy lambs sold mostly unchanged. Restockers, feeders and processors competed keenly for suitable lambs and most light lambs were a few dollars dearer. Restockers paid from $84-$124 for better lambs and from $52-$75 for lighter lots.
Light weight 2 score lambs sold from $83-$96. Light trade 2 and 3 score lambs sold from $91-$119 and averaged close to 550c/kg cwt. Trade weight 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $115-$126, with the heavier drafts selling from $125-$142. The same order also ranged from 505-560c/kg and averaged close to 545c/kg. Heavy 3 and 4 score lambs sold from $137-$161. Extra heavy export lambs made $168-$186. Heavy hoggets sold from $80-$124.
Most sheep sold from unchanged to $4 dearer, with the plainer crossbred sheep a little easier in places. There wasn’t as much wool on some of the Merino wethers this week and they sold a few dollars easier in places. Light weight 1 and 2 score sheep sold from $31-$72. Medium weight 2 and 3 score sheep made $52-$99 and ranged from 270-340c/kg. Merino mutton averaged close to 310c/kg. Heavy 3-5 score crossbred sheep sold from $68-$99. Heavy Merino ewes made $80-$106. Heavy Merino wethers sold from $78-$105 and medium weights made $63-$80. Rams of all weights and types sold from $25-$105.
Dublin’s light trade crossbred lambs lift $11
At the South Australian Livestock Exchange at Dublin on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7733 lambs, 1526 fewer than last week, and 2646 sheep, 644 less.
The NLRS said the very mixed quality yarding of crossbred and Merino lambs sold to stronger bidding from the usual trade and processor buyers. The sale started strongly, before tailing off during the latter part of the sale. Feeders and restockers were cautiously active, and were content to concentrate on well-grown trade weight lambs and the large numbers of light weight Merino lines.
Crossbred lambs sold to restockers for $66-$112. Light weight 3 score crossbreds sold $4 higher to processors at $104-$114, averaging 511c/kg cwt. Light trade weight crossbreds were scarce, with 4 scores lifting $11 to $120-$125. Heavy trade weights also rose $11 to $110-$148, averaging 546c/kg. Heavy weights lifted 8-$13 to $145-$160, or 512-547c/kg. Extra heavy weights sold to $183.
Light weight Merino lambs sold to feeders and restockers for $31-$70 and to processors for $75-$105. Trade weight 3 scores sold to processors lifted $6 to $94-$118, or 451-506c/kg. Heavy weights sold from $110-$150, or up to 511c/kg. A good selection of hoggets sold to strong competition, with heavy weight Merinos making 106-$128 and crossbreds from $107-$116.
The very good quality yarding of sheep sold to stronger processor bidding. Restockers bought ewes at $105 and wethers at $104. Light weight 2 score ewes sold to processors lifted $10 to $73-$79, averaging 292c/kg. Heavy weight 3 scores lifted $10 to $75-$110 and averaged 290c/kg. Heavy weight wethers lifted $15 to $99-$117, averaging 318c/kg. Heavy weight rams sold from $60-$77.
Naracoorte’s best trade lambs fall up to $5
At the Naracoorte saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 2194 lambs, 361 more than last week, and 1061 sheep, 414 fewer than last week.
The NLRS said lamb quality was mixed for the usual trade and processor buyers, restocker orders. The market generally sold to a softer trend.
Light weight lambs sold from $69-$100, with light weight trade 2 and 3 score lambs making $98-$101. Trade weight 3 score lambs made $103-$121 at an average of 510c/kg cwt, up to $5 easier. Restocker orders were active on light and trade lambs from $42-$108. Heavy 4 score lambs sold from $120-$136 and the few extra heavy export weight lambs made $155-$176.
Hoggets sold from $76-$97 and light weight ewes sold from $22-$60. Medium weight ewes made $64-$85, at an average of 320c/kg. Heavy weight ewes sold from $75-$101 and rams made to $55.
Muchea’s trade lambs ease $3-$5
In Western Australia at the Muchea saleyards on Tuesday, the agents yarded 7088 lambs, 1598 more than last week, and 6400 sheep, 2167 more.
The NLRS said prime lamb numbers eased and light weight store drafts increased significantly. Quality overall was back on last week, with smaller numbers of good trade and heavy lambs.
All the usual buyers attended, but competition for trade lambs eased on quality, with most sales back $3-$5. Light restocker lambs were dearer. Very light lambs sold from $17-$68 to restockers, with the merino drafts averaging $43, close to $10 dearer. Light lambs suitable for feed and air freight processors sold firm at $61-$94. Trade weight lambs sold from $70-$116, to average around $4 easier, with some plainer categories back by up to $9. Heavier drafts made $105-$126, back $5. Better trade and heavy weight lambs averaged close to 495c/kg and plainer drafts around 475c/kg.
Ewe numbers were up and there was less weight in the ewe mutton drafts, but most sold firm to marginally dearer. Mutton sales again firmed, the light weight ewes firm at $25-$54. The 2 score medium weight processor mutton made $45-$68 to be back around $2. Better conditioned and heavy weight ewes made from $53-$81, mostly $2-$5 dearer. Restockers purchased suitable drafts at $49-$70, with most sales firm to $2 dearer than last week.
Prices were close to firm for the limited wether and ram offering. Bare shorn export wethers made $80-$100 and drafts longer in wool sold to $111. Light and store wethers sold to restockers and feeders for $45-$120, with the dearest wethers carrying close to a full fleece. Rams sold to the trade for up to $106 and live export drafts made $40-$94. Old rams sold to processors for $5-$48, similar to last week.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.