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Merino wether and lamb turn-off continues to retain ewe flock

Sheep Central, May 28, 2018

These Merino wether lambs sold for $99 at Walgett, NSW, on Auctionsplus last week.

DEMAND for Merino wethers and lambs held firm online last week as producers across New South Wales and Queensland continued to sell off surplus stock to focus on retaining ewes in the dry conditions.

Despite the AuctionsPlus offering of Merino wethers and wether lambs lifted by 2500 to 10,500, comprising about a third of total online listings last week.

AuctionsPlus market operations officer Ed Murphy said a Merino wether/lamb clearance rate of 76 percent was achieved.

He said average price of Merino wether lambs held consistent at $84, with prices ranging from $63.50 up to $109 for a line of May-June drop wether lambs at Rochester in Victoria. The 40kg lwt lambs had a 2.5cm fleece.

Fewer older Merino wethers were offered last, but they sold well to average $93. Prices ranged from $70.50 up to $119.50 for a line of 2 year-old wethers with a 1.25cm fleece weighing 47kg at Avenel, VIC.

Walgett agent, Russell Hiscox from Clemson Hiscox and Co assessed and offered 1020 late April shorn July-August 2017 drop wether lambs for the SA Wickman Family Trust at Borgara that sold for $99.  The mostly score 2 Egalabra blood lambs averaged 41.8kg live and had been bought woolly after weaning to be finished to export weights.

Despite being on faba bins in paddock feeders, Mr Hiscox said it was becoming a struggle to get the lambs good enough for a butcher in the dry conditions. He said the Borgara-bred Merino wether lambs had already been sold earlier at weaning.

“People are making the decision to keep whatever feed they’ve got to feed females.”

First 2018 new season lambs offered

These march-drop Poll Dorset suckers sold for $97 at Ariah Park, NSW, on AuctionsPlus last week.

Overall sheep and lamb numbers eased by 3000 to 31,241 on AuctionsPlus last week. Mr Murphy said the tail end of the 2017 drop lambs were being listed and the first 2018-drop lambs offered, as store lamb numbers fell to 5000 head online.

Poll Dorset cross suckers weighing 38kg lwt sold for $115.50 or 305c/kg at Coolac, NSW, and first cross mixed sex suckers weighing 37kg made $75.50 or 205c/kg at Bollon in Queensland.

Store lambs offered on AuctionsPlus last week included 2018’s first new season lambs. These included 250 March 2018 drop woolly Poll Dorset cross lambs from Ariah Park, NSW, weighed 24.1kg lwt or 11.5kg cwt, mostly score 3 in condition, that sold for $97 or 402c/kg live.

Merino ewe offering drops

Merino ewe listings fell sharply to 6600 head, down 3500 on the previous week. Supply is subsiding from restockers and breeders as the wheels are already in motion for autumn and spring lambing ewes, Mr Murphy said.

Merino hoggets ranged in price from $55.50 to $168 for a line of 51kg, 17-18 month-old ewes from Springhurst in Victoria. Young Merino breeders aged 2-4 years realised a similar span in prices; from $80 up to $137.50 for a line of 55kg, 2.5 year-old ewes scanned in-lamb to Border Leicester rams at Mannanarie in South Australia. Older Merino breeders, 4-6 years-old, sold from $80 to $150. Highlights included a line of 2-5 year-old, 67kg Merino ewes at Hillston, NSW, scanned in-lamb to Poll Dorset rams that made $150.

First cross ewes sell to $210

Producers offered about 3000 first cross ewes last week, evenly split between ewe lambs and older proven breeders. The ewe lambs sold from $113 to $149, with the top price paid for a line of 44kg, 10-11 month old ewes at Balldale, NSW. The proven breeders made from $140 up to $210 for a line of 1.5 year old 67kg ewes scanned in-lamb to White Suffolk rams at Bridgewater on Loddon in Victoria.

Store lamb highlights

Composite mixed sex lambs, 38kg lwt, $119.50 or 316c/kg, Lockhart, NSW

Poll Dorset cross lambs, 36kg, $116.50 or 324c/kg, Peak Hill, NSW

White Suffolk cross lambs, 37kg, $104 or 283c/kg, Armidale, NSW

Source: AuctionsPlus.

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